There is something strangely unique about New York; it’s rather like a vacuum packed London, all the good and bad bits squeezed together into a pulsating, squealing, squirming mass. As soon as you step outside your door you are hit with the chaos of the streets with every person rushing from one place to another, the filthy litter blowing into doorways where lost souls have made their homes and shoving, brusque rudeness. It can take its toll on anyone, irrespective of how sturdy a disposition they may have. And yet, there is a different side … ask anyone for help and they’ll do more; they’ll smile, chat and ask questions, and when you take the trouble to instigate a conversation with a stranger, you’ll have a new friend for life. Perhaps New York is a sheep in wolf’s clothing after all and not so frightening underneath the snarling exterior.
We are exactly halfway through our posting here. Eighteen months gone and eighteen to go.
It has been a rollercoaster which sounds so predictably trite and yet … what with the usual frustrations of settling into a new country, we have had however the antidote of parties in Central Park, people of every nationality to meet and learn from, the beauty of the towns we’ve explored, the outrageously glamorous Hamptons, the museums and theatres … it’s been everything and more than we’d hoped for.
Within weeks of arrival we had an electricity blackout that wiped out the entirety of Hell’s Kitchen all the way to the Upper West Side. This hadn’t happened since the early 1970’s. The chaos that ensued was staggering. That’s a lot of people stuck in a lot of elevators.
After 24 hours we decided there were only so many games of Scrabble we could play, so walked down the 49 floors to the nearest bar until a couple of hours later our legs had stopped shaking long enough for us to walk back up again. Had we known that was the start of many, many games of Scrabble in future months we might have invested in a larger scoring pad. As I type, we are exactly 77 games a piece. That’s 154 games in the Coronavirus Challenge. That’s a lot of Scrabble, a lot of checking the dictionary and a lot of expletives.
For a time we were slap bang in the epicentre of America’s coronavirus. So we battened down the hatches, took to Zoom like the rest of the world and watched the Navy hospital ship ‘Comfort’ sail into and then finally out of Pier 90. All faintly surreal, like seeing Florence Nightingale float up the Hudson dressed in white. We watched the news desperately, religiously day after day and as life crumbled around the planet all we really wanted was to be closer to our family.
And then, Trump vs Biden. I shall refrain from any political ramblings, but again, we are witnessing extraordinary times.
Suffice to say it’s been an interesting time with ups and downs like everyone else, but a time for plenty of reflection and thought … And dare I say it, thank God for Scrabble.