I figured that since I’m in New York for such a short time, I shouldn’t even bother trying to get into the time zone. However I screwed up and somehow have managed to settle into the wrong time zone altogether – last night, for example, I slept from 8 PM till 3 AM, then up all day until 8 PM again. That’s probably not good and doesn’t bode well for the fact that I’m supposed to be in the office the day after I get back to HK (on Tuesday).
I find myself liking New York this trip, the first time in a long time. I think a big part of that is that usually my annual trip here has been in the winter, when the days were cold, grey and wet. Yesterday was sunny, blue skies and 20 degrees. Walking around a crowded Soho on a Saturday afternoon was pleasant and kind of fun. People were friendly and helpful. Lots of eye candy on the street.
I was really stuck for where to go for lunch. I felt spoiled by choice – I passed Veselka, the temple of Ukranian food and two favorite spots from 20 years ago, still in business – Paul’s Burgers just off St. Marks Place and Acme, presumably still serving up some of the best chicken fried steak in the world. Not being that hungry, I settled for a slice of NYC pizza and sat next to autographed photos of Barbra Streisand and Katie Couric. I passed a couple of cupcake trucks and carts and that was some serious temptation there. McSorley’s is still going strong (“We were here before you were born”) and Burp Castle is still there too.
And then … went to visit the guy who had been my best friend back in high school. This year marks the 40th anniversary of our senior year and we haven’t seen each other in close to 20 years. His wife was also an old friend. I’d say she was his high school sweetheart but that’s not strictly true – we were all in the same class for 3 years but they didn’t start dating until a year after graduation.
He also left NYC years ago and was visiting the city at the same time as me. I would hesitate to call the timing a stroke of luck though – he’s here getting treatment for liver cancer, which the doctors discovered just two months ago when he was getting a colonoscopy. So perhaps the best way to describe the two hours we spent together would be to call them bittersweet – which is honest even if it sounds trite on the surface.
(What made the visit even weirder is that they were staying in an apartment in a building that my aunt used to live in – 50 years ago, every holiday, the family dinners were always at her apartment and I guess it’s been at least 30 years since I was in this building.)
Would I want to live in New York again? For the first time I considered the possibility. The arts and culture, the shopping, the beauty of the city on a good day – balanced against the generally crap climate (I hate snow and ice), the higher crime, the higher cost of almost everything except rent and gas, the distance from Asia (which would be a serious issue for my gf). No, I don’t think I will. But I do know that I have to do my future family visits in spring or fall and not in winter, duh.
(Photos to follow after I get home.)