Yes I’m home – (sort of) NYC report

Posted on September 12th, 2007 @ 21:55 in life & me, Travel

This has been a pretty weird trip and I don’t know what, how much, and how I am going to write about it. I have some 300 photos, some of which I may post too, but frankly it’s not gonna be anything new or breathtaking. A lot of tall buildings, a lot of people, and some greenery.

Hum yeah so as some of you know already from my super-short stints online (or from my whingeing texts if you’re Jimmy) the whole thing’s been a bit of a let-down, or anti-climax, or I don’t know what to call it. I can’t even say for sure why that is, tho the main factors were probably:

  • Being reminded of bloody Charlie at every street corner and all that this entailed (realising no NYC trip could ever top last year’s, missing him in general and feeling crap about the whole mess all over again etc). This was particularly bad during the first 2 days but got the whole thing off to a bad start, making the experience pretty unbearable, and making me unbearable too.
  • Generally having hyped myself up faaaar too much about the trip – nothing, no matter how great, could ever live up to my expectations. You know how, if you expect very little, you can only be pleasantly surprised. This of course works the other way round too, so after all the preliminary excitement I could only be disappointed. This then got so much worse because I wanted to, I had to enjoy myself, and realising it wasn’t gonna happen despite trying so hard just made me all the more depressed.
    The first few days I got almost panicky during those moments – being in my beloved NYC, I was supposed to be ecstatic and it just wasn’t bloody happening! The whole feeling of “this can’t be true, after all this” just exacerbated it all and made me feel even worse than I already did. Once I’d accepted it wasn’t gonna be all that great and told myself there would be a next time the panic subsided somewhat and things improved.
  • Um, ok, being there with my mum was a disaster too. It needn’t have happened that way but as I said, because of the two previous factors, I was pretty horrible to be around. There had also been some outside issues that made matters worse (like the hotel room being a shit hole, at least for the price we paid, and her blaming me of course) but we just couldn’t get along at all. She annoyed the crap out of me with pointless remarks and stupid questions, it was like she did it on purpose (I found out later that at least partly she did).
    She on the other hand found me bitchy and impatient (which I was) and blas√© (which I wasn’t, I was just depressed) and was hugely disappointed cuz she too had been so excited about going there with me, after how I’d been going on about it for years etc. She loved New York, and I assume she was trying to bond with me by gushing about it extravagantly, when all it did was rub in the fact that she was able to enjoy what I was being deprived of by circumstances.
    It was pretty horrible. I mean I feel for her, it must have been awful for her, but I was far too wrapped up in my loss and depression to really care. I mean, this was my city we were talking about, my love, and she’d only just “met” it, surely this was a bigger disaster for me than for her?
    We talked about it once or twice (over a few glasses of wine lol) and I tried to explain to her, and I think she at least tried to understand, but the rest of the time we bickered and fought, or tried to just about get along, with humongous effort.
    We spent some time apart the last two days (I was desperate for it), and that was better, for both of us but for me especially. I feel kinda bad about that too, I was quite obviously trying to get rid of her, and the last day she really didn’t fancy being on her own (despite telling me the day before it would be fine) so basically I just dragged her to really boring places (like spending 30mins at Virgin) because I knew that would change her mind and she’d let me off (tho admittedly this was after me doing her stuff for 3 days and finally getting to choose because she’d run out of suggestions from her guides).
    But yeah I do feel sorry for her. I know she cried a few times cuz she was so disappointed. And I wish I could be more loving or affectionate. I was so icy cold. I felt a bit like Elizabeth Wurtzel, being too wrapped up in me me me to care one bit about her. But I did care, I just couldn’t help her. I couldn’t say anything to make her feel better (why lie? and more importantly – how!? it felt repulsive). Our relationship is so weird, being there with her I mostly just thought “I don’t even love this woman” – I wanted to, but she was just so annoying!! I know how horrible this makes me sound but oh well.

Ok these were rather long bullet points. I think I’ve more or less summed up why it sucked tho. Well, it didn’t just suck, it was still a far better trip than if I’d gone to, say, Ibiza with a bunch of chavs, but for a New York trip it was fairly shitty. Still it was New York, and I think I’ve managed to at least partly reclaim my city during those times alone, although right now I have no desire to go back. But I am tired and jet-lagged, and I do intend to stick to my plan of spending a month there next year if I can. As my whorebag very rightly said, NYC is my city, it’s nothing to do with Charlie or anyone else, and no one’s gonna take it away from me.

Right, enough about my emotional turmoil and let me say a few words about what we actually did and saw and experienced. Tho mostly it’s boring – my mum being a New York virgin we had to do all the basics again. We did them mostly walking, and my feet hurt a lot (also my crotch, but that’s a whole different story which I’ll spare you…)

When we got there there was some yellow cab strike so getting into Manhattan from JFK was a bit of an ordeal… ok this isn’t a good or useful intro to anything but I just thought I’d mention it. Mhm. The first day (we only had half a day really) we just walked around Midtown for a while… Empire State Building, Macy’s, Grand Central, then up to St Patrick’s and back. Sth like that.

The second day we did Lower Manhattan / Financial District and the usual Staten Island Ferry ride. For some reason my mum’s obsessed with the Financial District (actually the reason was that her main guide book, which she’d photocopied countless chapters from, had devoted some 5 pages to it as opposed to about 1-2 pages for many/most other quarters). She was also inexplicably obsessed with Broadway (whyyy??? it’s mostly – apart from the Theatre District – an average street whose sole “benefit” is running diagonally across Manhattan. Apparently that diagonality warranted extensive worship tho) and 5th Avenue (any objections √† la “but 5th Ave is no more interesting than other streets around this area” were met with “just because you’ve been here before, just let me have my fun” yada yada. I gather she did it mainly to annoy me).

Um anyway, I should stop ranting about my mum. Next day we did the whole chunk of Manhattan north of the Financial District – “the Villages” (as her guidebook called them) – and I got tea from Teany. I’d never really done much of Chinatown before so that was kinda interesting. Tho too many people.

Third day was our MoMA day I believe, we also did Central Park and 5th Ave and St Patrick’s again and 2 churches I hadn’t seen and they had that fun street market on 52nd again that I went to with Charlie (sob) so I bought T-shirts and stuff.

Next day (10th, my birthday, incidentally) was where we’d agreed to go our separate ways so I started by going online at Starbucks, then did some more or less boring shopping at Penn Station Kmart, then took a long time tidying my suitcase while watching My Super Sweet 16 aaand finally went for a long walk in the semi-rain and tried to fall in love with NYC again and semi-succeeded. Then met with mum, took her to the Guggenheim and convinced her to let me leave again (after some coaxing, ahem), walked around the Upper West Side for a bit (boring) and finally went to Union Square and just sat there listening to music.

Next (and final) day we started by packing and watching the 9/11 commemorations on TV (fitting since I watched the actual attacks on TV at an NYC hotel room too), then made our way down to Ground Zero and watched it first hand for a while (didn’t do that back in 2001 tho, heh). It was weird, the transition from “watching it on TV” to “being there”. But it was also moving, and we both cried a bit. I also found this again today and also cried a bit…

I’m looking at it right now (we can see the WTC from our office) and it looks like a second plane just hit the second tower (we just saw it happen). I can’t confirm it but it’s absolutely crazy…
posted by TNLNYC at 9:06 AM on September 11

Six years on I can still relate to that feeling, the motions everyone went through that day, the shock and disbelief and “OMG”ness of it all. It still feels so real. And six years on NYC is still a city deeply marked by that day. Despite all the coolness and remarkable tenacity it has shown, 9/11 is everywhere – from the whole “our heroes” worship the New Yorkers have shown their emergency services ever since, to the truly sincere mourning you can see on the day. Not to speak of the deep gash that is Ground Zero itself. My mum was shocked about how ugly it still is. But apparently this year they had the commemoration outside the ground itself because “rebuilding was underway” (or is it because they’re afraid of the toxic fumes that may still linger on the site?).

Actually I was surprised to find that the whole issue of long-term effects of 9/11 is being debated quite openly and extensively over there now. I’d first heard about it a few weeks ago and it sounded like they were still trying to keep it hush-hush for fear of thousands of compensation lawsuits. It’s weird and scary to think how the death toll may rise so much higher, a multiple of what it is now. I bet the Muslim Extremist Idiots will rub their hands in glee. Bastards.

The other thing I became aware of (again) was that the US really are a “country at war”. You tend to sort of forget that when over here, or at least I do, because I often choose not to read the stories about Iraq, and altho I regularly read Metafilter, it doesn’t quite reflect what it’s like to live over there. The war is a fixture there, in politics of course, but also in everyday life, affecting pretty much everyone, much much more than it does here. Even those who are not really interested. You cannot have a disinterested opinion about it the way you can over here.

I have nothing clever to say about this – I think most people know my opinion on the Bush administration and this war. I just sort of had an emotional response to that, the same way I did (and do) about 9/11. That’s not to say I would be pro-war if I lived in the US – far from it! Just that maybe I would be more involved and less jaded about it. In truth, my country has never been in a war since I was born. Not even the UK (if you wish to call that “mine”). I know they have soldiers over there, but it’s just not the same. Maybe because the US are more of a country of warmongers? Gah. I dunno. I just had to express that, purely emotionally and irrationally. I guess perhaps I am growing more and more of a soft spot for the US.

Thus endeth my NYC report? This has been rather damn fucking long. I guess it makes up for my long silence. Soon I will go to bed – I still have much to catch up on here – and maybe I will post a few dozen photos or so in due time. But maybe I won’t and I’m sure you will forgive me.

One good thing about this whole NYC disaster is… I don’t miss it so much just now. Being back in Brighton is ok. Heaps better than being in Luxembourg (goodness gracious!) and nowhere near as depressing as it has been in previous times – coming back from London or Norway or the US. I have a job to go to tomorrow, things to do, a life to attend to… it could be much much worse. :-) (and soon NYC again…)

2 Comments

 
stagiaire said on Sep 13, 2007 at 00:56

I think I’d say sorry to my mom in a few days after the stuff you both went through. Doesn’t sound too great how this went down.

Concerning the US being a country at war, I think it depends on who you’re with, where exactly you go to and how you want to look at it. I’ve been to Illinois, Wisconsin and California since the attacks, and of course, you talk to people about it, but to me it didn’t feel as if people were really thinking too hard about war, terrorism and whatever. You can walk through the US and not notice all of this at all, because at the end of the day the effects it has on you are not that unusual. Even concerning the airport check-ins I had to go through worse security checks in Germany than I did in the US. I found it laughable in the US compared to German security.

But maybe NY is a whole different story. Especially since you went there round September 11th when people remember the date all around the world anyway.


 
 
Clarissa said on Sep 13, 2007 at 16:26

Hm yeah well I dunno if I’ll be able to say sorry to her. And I did already say I was sorry it was this way when we were over there.

Yeah security at JFK was a lot more lax than in Europe too. But I dunno about the rest. It seems like everyone knows someone who has a family member in Iraq. And the Petraeus report was a huge thing. They just seem to talk about it a lot.


 

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