“This is a Manhattan-bound Q local train. The next stop is…”
I have my own special New York routine. Everybody has routines, but mine is funny because it’s sort of frozen in time. A year can pass, but I’ll come back and my route will be the same some day.
My relatives live on Staten Island, and another family – in Brooklyn; so every time I would hop on my aunt’s car and she would drop me at Sheepshead Bay on her way to work, and I would take a train to Avenue M.
Then, after visiting my grandfather’s sister, I would either head to Obzhora, a Russian restaurant on Kings Highway that I cherish and love; or down to Avenue U to my mother’s friend’s fashion salon. I just love showing up there whenever I’m in the city, without a call or a note that I’ll be in the US. Just walking in and saying hi! Her face is usually priceless!
Then one of the routes could be 86th&Bay pkway, where another family of friends live. Larry King grew up there. There’s also a little Taiwanese cafe in the area that serves my favorite bubble tea in the world. And afterwards I would head to Manhattan.
It’s so weird, to be here in New York in winter. I’ve always visited in summer or spring. It’s never been so gloomy, the wet snowflakes falling down from the sky. I’m such an un-winter person; I despise all these sixty layers of clothing, and the dirt, and the gloom. But it seems that New Yorkers deny winter as well, walking around in their sneakers and light boots and short socks when it feels below zero C. In a weather like this all I want is to dig into blankets and stay there with some tea and chocolate, cuddling with my cat. I haven’t seen my cat for four months! Just kidding, that’s definitely not what bothers me most in this life. Although I can still picture Rachel saying “I miss my cat!”. Or “It’s pancake day! I’m so excited!”
I like New York. The lights and the smells – so familiar – and the cool places and museums and friends. I like walking the busy streets alone, breathing in the cool winter air and feeling the sun rays (a luxury New Yorkers have) on my face. I like that you’re a ghost in this city: no one sees you, and you can just walk around and watch and smell and listen.
I don’t like New York. The constant crowds, moving non-stop down the narrow pathways, too narrow to provide comfortable space for everyone. These people are city people; they don’t care about walking carefully and looking where they’re going. This is too big of a city to be polite. They rarely say “sorry” if they push you or run into you or step on your foot. It’s just like Moscow.
I don’t like to be alone in New York. It sucks you in, it drinks you to the bottom, and there you are, wandering senseless down the streets and avenues, with no purpose but to move on. I can’t imagine how people do the same routine as me day after day after day. I mean getting from home to work and back with all this traffic and terrible public transportation that eats your time like a hungry worm. Spending so much time every day on moving around! The only idea of it makes me shiver; yet I live in the same big city with just a little bit better transportation system.
I miss Ireland, and Luxembourg, and Cape Town. I miss them for the nature and for the air and for the people. I lose myself in big cities. I don’t like to lose myself. It takes too long to be found.
I met family and friends – my friends and my mom’s friends, – I walked around, ate and shopped. Did it make me happy? It definitely kept me distracted – what else could I wish.
Day after tomorrow I have to get on the plane and fly back to Moscow. It’s funny how free I feel here. It’s a sweet illusion, just like SAS. I’m supposed to have a plan now – I’m done with classes, I’m graduating soon, I have all these great expectations on my shoulders.
I wish it was as simple as they make it sound. Everyone wants me to settle down and take up the responsibility. I’m 21 for heaven’s sake; give me a break. I’ve already been responsible for more than I probably should have. I just want to run away and join the circus or anything. Dress up as a man and travel the world with nothing but a backpack, all around the world. I want to walk deserts and climb mountains and swim the lakes and rivers and the seas. I want to fly. I want to do something great. I want to be someone great.
The waves go up and crash; my wave crashes and goes up again to crash down afterwards. That’s the stream of life.
I’m walking around in earphones with music playing on the background of my thoughts. I haven’t done this for four months; now I want to shut back down. Time to take a break and think and reflect. And think. And reflect. And decide.