You stay in an apartment on Clifton Street in the Lower East Side, eat mac n cheese at Schiller's Liquor Bar, walk the Highline, drink a lot of martinis. You are at odds, both empty and conflicted. It was just three months ago that you walked out on your life back home and since then it has been packing boxes, division. You are still in the desolate, undersea state that comes at the end of something long and slow to die. At any moment, finally, you are going to break through the surface and take a great big gasping breath of fresh air.
It is hot in New York and you rent a shiny car and drive to Montauk with the windows down. All those strange-looking towns and lakes and trees pass in a blur and you are thinking how peaceful it is not to know somewhere, to be someplace unfamiliar where everything is compelling and possible, because it is, because sometimes knowing a place erases the magic of it, nullifies its previous allure. The unknown has a glamour about it - not just the Hamptons, which are glamorous anyway with their Ralph Lauren wearing Martha Stewart-esque summer boarders, square-straight green lawns and designer muffins - but the dirty back streets of Manhattan, the greasy place you ate dumplings back in the city, the deserted, polished malls that you are passing now. There is a glaze over the uncharted that chips off like enamel upon acquaintance. You are thinking that, sometimes, getting to know a person has the same effect, too. You don’t want to be acquainted to anywhere or anyone, right now, so in a way New York is perfect for you; hard and noisy and fast and unsympathetic. You go to Barneys and fit slick into jeans in tiny sizes because you lost a ton of weight being unhappy. You go to Williamsburg and Brooklyn and watch a Yankees game. You go to Queens and eat the best Thai food of your life.
Interesting to go back, two years later. A different, happier, more peaceful version of the person before. Another juncture.
I love the actual humdrum, boring part of travelling, waiting in departures lounges and traipsing through arrivals halls, queues at customs, queues at taxi ranks. The temporary paralysis during the A to B to C. Other than back in Africa, I haven’t travelled much alone. Lonely travelling is something I’ve always wanted to do; someone I’ve always wanted to be, I guess - self-sufficient; incognito. I think of it as the ultimate luxury, where the only agenda is being led, driven, flown, waiting to arrive. And luggage, packing a suitcase, those little disposable travel toiletries; all that.
On Wednesday I’m going to get on a plane from London and I’m going to sleep in that white hotel room and I’m going to go walking in New York City. I’m going to read the latest Donna Tartt novel and search out the best lobster roll in town and I'm going to spend a couple of weeks as an intern at Saipua, learning a little more about flowers.
I’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, you can follow along on Instagram if you are so inclined.