It’s so appropriate that New York gets five blog posts. A real testament to its imposing in every way scale. Plus I know I, predictably, got enough photos to go with so many words, which is reassuring. This bit is worth the extra thousand words or so. You’ll enjoy it, I guarantee it, or your money (by which I mean time because of course you didn’t pay for squat besides data allowance to view this blog) back. Here we go! 5.15am. If that’s not shocking enough for you, I’ll spell it out: quarter-past five in the God, damn, morning. That’s after many drinks, loud music, enjoyable yet draining (for an introvert) company and going to bed at, oh, I dunno: 3am? And at the risk of throwing chronology out of kilter again so soon after getting it back on track, I’d say it must’ve been Tuesday, December 4, 2012. Not even 6am. Jesus. I would pay for it later. Pay with my heart. But at this moment it was prudent to live in the moment, or at least the very short-term future. In this sorry state I had to while hungover, savagely sleep deprived and carrying about 50 kilograms get to, then ride the subway through one of the most densely populated areas on the planet – thankfully before rush hour, and going in the opposite direction to most commuters. I had to go back the way I’d come when first landing at JFK International Airport a week earlier, which simplified matters. But the kicker was how it all began. I’d set an alarm, of course, but what I actually woke up to was Carlo shaking me because I’d slept through my alarm. I’d become the drunken alarm sleep through hostel staying wanker! The horror! The fear and fucking loathing! Unfortunately, I had no time presently in which to reflect on this episode of severe pain, because I was running late, so I mumbled thanks to my saviour – who promptly returned to sleep – endured one last trip downstairs on the Slowest Elevator in the World, threw my key card at the reception staff, and burst – as much as it is possible for anyone to “burst” anywhere considering my condition at the time – out on to Amsterdam Avenue.
Alright, and perhaps not so obviously: I made it. It was not, and I stress NOT, fun, though. While I was slumped within a carriage hurtling underground, and contemplating the positives of death, some bum moved through the carriage asking everyone within it for money by using some fabricated sob story. He got to me, looked me in my bloodshot eyes and moved on without even having a go. My aching, angry soul was clearly hanging somewhere beyond and around me, warding off anyone whether their disposition toward me was positive or not. A friendly yet probably naive young Indonesian woman unknowingly tried her best to improve my mood, when she asked me if I was going to JFK. Because, duh, that’s where she was going. She reminded me of the short amount of time I’d spent in Indonesia, in Jakarta, particularly, before a flight home from a surf trip in which I’d spent about 10 days on a boat with eight other Aussie gents and three native crew members – around an island west of Java called Panaitan. The boat’s crew, and my brief experiences with Indonesian mainlanders, imbued in me a lasting impression that Indonesians are beautiful, generous, if largely impoverished and sometimes corrupt people. I never saw her again after leaving the train. And I suspect she went in the wrong direction, because she was nowhere to be seen as I awaited the airport connecting Air Train. I hope her travels then and future journeys through the grand theatre of life treat her well. I arrived with plenty of time before the flight. It must’ve been later than I thought. I had a gin and tonic, which had by now become my airport drink of choice, and read and used the airport’s wifi. In between drifting in and out of badly needed sleep, I enjoyed watching movies – Total Recall and The Campaign – and TV shows – New Girl and Curb Your Enthusiasm – during my third international flight (not counting Vancouver-Vegas via San Fran). And finally, after looking out at darkness that might as well have been the endless emptiness of space, I was struck by lights below sprinkled across the flat expanse that was England, west of London and Heathrow International Airport. The Old Country. In many ways, despite my Irish and Scottish heritage: home.