Wednesday, 26 September 2007

What a wonderful town

September was a bad time to go to New York. Not in terms of the weather – Manhattan was bathed in glorious sunlight for almost the whole week we were there – but in terms of timing. We came home to the beginnings of autumnal gloom, along with all the hassles of the new school year, marginal progress on the building work (yet another missing ceiling), more financial problems, and a foot-and-mouth crisis that threatens to devastate my partner's business. What with the jetlag, and ensuing queasiness and marathon migraines, I have not been in the best of spirits.

Not that coming back from New York is ever easy. I have an inexhaustible passion for the place, having been swept off my feet on my first visit five years ago. It was truly a case of love at first sight. The moment I set foot on Manhattan tarmac I knew there was nowhere on earth I would rather be. I just love the energy and exuberance of the place, the diversity and chaos. The busy-ness of it all. I love the way the city fosters contrast and paradox, eccentricity and extremes. I know of nowhere else with such an abundance of life.

I thought maybe I’d get over it eventually, like you do most infatuations. But this trip proved that time doesn't always heal. The moment we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge I was bouncing off the walls with excitement, drinking in everything I’d missed - the constant blare of horns and sirens, the avenue-long vistas, the downtown dinginess, the ubiquitous smell of vanilla, the streaming yellow taxis, the iconic skyline. Oh, and the cheesecake.

Everything about New York makes my pulse race and my heart sing. It's the only thing on earth that ever made me wish I could live my life again and do things differently. Yet I know that even if I could go back and live out my life there, it wouldn’t be enough. Even a thousand lives wouldn’t really get you under the skin of the place.

As it is, I’m confined to all too infrequent weeks out there, and occasional meanderings around the wonderful New York craigslist ( - check out the 'Best of' section on the right when you need a few belly laughs). I know I don’t have much to complain about in life. I’ve been exceptionally lucky in the greater scheme of things. But still, it’s a hard thing when your heart belongs in one place, but your body is stuck in another.

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