dimanche 21 avril 2013

New York series 01: The Offlinepeople Fly West Side Of The Atlantic

 And today is a fine day. New York’s light, in summer tones, has finally time-travelled to this other side of the Atlantic with its crisp cool air, Crisp beer, and oysters, houdini dollars, and reminiscence of love and friendship and more.

 Three weeks ago was the penultimate day before we flew to New York City, half of us for the first time, to reunite with old companion Benjamin, elusive offlinepeople, elusive perhaps for sticking to the offline title of the people. No, no, we do love him, we’re only kidding. Where’s your next post Benjamin?

 Anyway, back to New York, or pre west Altantic holidays - second mention of the ocean, more to follow - under grey skies, the clock almost set for summer time, ESTA approved, suitcases open and rapidly filling up.

 I’d had dreams about New York, about America in general. I remember an airport in Miami welcoming us under a rainbow; of the feeling of a land profuse in amusement, wild expectation and severity. In A Voyage Long and Strange, Tony Horwitz mentions the harsh conditions the first (and second and third) settlers experienced while trying to occupy this land and its people - now there is irony - and it is an exact point you can still obverse.
 In terms of immigration, the chance for you to work long hours with only the skeleton of state welfare for reward is extremely hard to be granted. The climate varies from high temperatures to very low without much notice. Hurricanes and other nature’s whims are familiar enough to bear friends’ names... But let’s stop here. We’re not a travel guide. We report from experience.

 We are on flight BA0115 to JFK. We have crossed over and have landed. The plane is to park a few yards away to the left but another plane occupying our space has broken down. We have to be patient. We have to wait.

 Just over an hour later and the few yards of tarmac have finally been covered. We’re getting scanned and stamped. Excitement can begin. But excitement isn’t there. It has been made latent by the dull neon light of Immigration, beige walls, and an overwhelming sense of normality. The word Alien is written everywhere but this is not an alien setting. Somehow I was expecting a different world but we are rolling our suitcases on the same planet. I sound disappointed but I am not. The vertigo has gone for good. I am experiencing reassurance, I can not only say that I am a citizen of this world but acknowledge it, in my body and my brain, the axes of my self.

 We rode on a yellow cab to the Lower East Side, drifting sideways from one lane to the next without much indicating. Suburban airport landscape slowly transforming until the skyline explodes in what we had come to expect; the competing skyscrapers, the worry of not tipping appropriately. The mistake was done, no love from our taxi driver.

 But we are there at last, walking down the street to the bar. Outdoor terrace, heated, not tired. And the orders come flowing. Budweiser for a start, sticking to what we know. I am turning my back to the entrance. My friends’ eyes widen: he has arrived, joined us, the transient worker in full capacity, will stay a while longer. Here is Benjamin.

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