DAY 13-15 – NEW YORK, NY
The train from Harrisburg dropped us off in Philly and we took the subway in Philly (Josh’s first subway ride ever, which he then totally forgot he took) to the Chinatown bus which would take us to New York City. We did it like this because it cost $80 for both of us to get from Harrisburg to New York, cheap. Now I realize that at this juncture in the trip we aren’t actually driving on the road, so it’s not technically a “road trip”, but that’s because fuck driving in New York. That and I know Philly very well (which we would hit after New York) and getting around on public transit is easier and faster. Josh and I know people in New York, so we had a place to stay. He stayed with our mutual friend Chris in Yonkers and I stayed with my friend Heather from college, who is pretty much the kindest, sweetest person I know, on the Upper East Side.
I figured a small break from one another would be a good thing. Rather than say we did this we did that there are pictures to see and more stuff on Josh’s Blog, so there. Josh had never been here so most of the locations we went to were so he could experience the city. I’ve been to New York many times and also lived here briefly so I have plenty to say on the subject of the city. Also I created a short film, a “New York World Tour”, of many famous landmarks, sights and sounds, which can be viewed on this page.
New York is a visually stunning and thoroughly captivating city filled with an endless amount of culture and interesting people. That being said I don’t think I would ever live here again. It was great to see Josh’s eyes light up as we walked around the city and I pointed out this and that, and I remember being that person, but the city wears on me, as in it wears me down. Now this may not be that big of a deal if the place wasn’t also insanely expensive, so there can be limitations on the experience, but it is also a place that you can just walk around in and be continually amazed.
The first time I visited New York I was probably 10 years old, actually I was definitely 10 years old because the World Cup was going on, I remember that. I stayed at a Days Inn in Manhattan with my mother, her friend, and her friend’s son, Anthony, who was a few years older than me and who I looked up to (and who also just got married, everyone is getting married). Maybe that’s where my affinity for the Days Inn began. I never doubt a Days Inn for some strange reason. We visited many sights that day. I remember Anthony skating recklessly around Manhattan, during which time some local New York kids called him a “scrub on a skateboard”, which I thought was just the coolest thing in the world. New York was a more dangerous, more exciting place in 1994, watch Kids to get an idea. I also remember going to the top of the old World Trade Center, of which I actually have pictures. New York left an indelible impression on me, and as I got older, saw more films, watched television shows set there, soaked in every bit of information I could about the place, it’s mystique grew.
I wanted to live in New York and go to school, possibly start a life there. When I was a kid a job, money, stress etc don’t really come to mind when thinking about a place, so I viewed it as a kind of cultural Oz, my personal Mecca, of which I defended when attacked, and knew I would eventually wind up living there. I went to school at Temple University in Philadelphia to get my bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Arts. I spent 6 years there, the second half of which was a very difficult time in my life. After graduating and moving around a bit I settled in Arizona where my mother had moved, got a job at a tech company, and applied to graduate schools, most of which were in the New York area. I was accepted to a great program at a school in Manhattan for creative writing and I proceeded to save money to prepare to move there in the fall. I also proceeded to fuck my life up even more during this time. When I arrived in the fall I lived there about a month then left, my dreams of making it work there crumbled quickly. Now it really didn’t matter that I was in New York, it wouldn’t have mattered where I was, as I have said before, I am where I am, and I could have gone to any city in the world at that point in my life and failed. Has that experience influenced my view of the city? I actually don’t think it did much. It is a wonderful place, just not for me right now. It’s too hectic, to expensive, and honestly it’s becoming way too gentrified. If I had some sort of amazing opportunity offered to me there I would definitely consider moving, but I would need financial stability, I’ve struggled enough in that aspect of my life up to this point and I’m sick of it.
I really do love New York, but as I said the place takes too much out of me. Central Park is always a great retreat from the madness but it’s not enough of a retreat. There are times when I want to hear close to nothing, and the buzz of the city is always there in one way or another in New York. It is true that the lure of being just another anonymous person on the street is strong, but sometimes it makes me feel overwhelmingly unexceptional, and I believe that we are all exceptional in one way or another. Surrounded by a sea of people I can still be a very lonely person, in fact I may feel more lonely, but it is these times that make me think fondly of the moments I’ve shared with others close to me while in this city. When you spend time with another human being in New York, actual time, it is permanent and cannot be taken away, ever. The city is too intense, is burns the events into memory, in fact it burns a certain feeling into your personal fabric.
On the final afternoon in New York Josh got lost trying to get to the right area in Chinatown to catch the bus and we ended up getting into Philly kind of late. Also, I think I failed to mention, the Chinatown bus is always a real shitshow, I love it.