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The New World: Part 3 – Beer, Bagels and Busses

I overslept. A lot. I can’t say exactly what time I woke up, but according to my Google timeline, it looks like I didn’t leave my hotel again until nearly 4 pm the following day, contrary to my intention of getting up bright and early and continuing my adventures in New York. More so now than then I feel that this is an impossibility to drink until the early hours and expect to get up at a reasonable time the next day, but I suppose that was also true two years ago. In fact, my trip to America was one of the catalysts in deciding to cut down on drinking in general, and my writing this now is a good reminder that I need to keep on that, as there have been numerous slip-ups lately.  

Despite being a complete write-off for most of the day, there was one thing that I knew I absolutely must do while I was there. The world is rather large, but at the same time it can feel incredibly small and the way that people’s lives can intertwine in some ways can appear quite miraculous. It just so happened that one of my mother’s old childhood friends lives and owns a bar in New York. A friend who I knew by name and from photographs that I had seen with me and her together. Being so small at the time I never had any memory of meeting her, but the photographs of her holding me proved that we definitely had met! I’ll admit I was a little worried at first at how it would go, but quickly realised that I had absolutely no reason to worry at all.  

I’d spoken to my mum the day before to make the arrangements, so my coming was not a surprise to her, but when I arrived to the bar and sat down to order myself a drink she was nowhere to be seen. I told the nice Irish barman to let her know that I was here and with some confusion he wandered off and came back a few moments later to let me know that she would be up soon. The bar itself was very nice and in what looked like a very respectable part of town and the atmosphere was great. Unfortunately I didn’t go there on a busy night so it was a little quiet, but I could imagine what it would have been like when rammed. For those of you who are interested, here is a link to their website.  

When she finally did appear from downstairs, I could tell by her expression that it was a very emotional experience for her from the first. While she tried to hold back the tears, there was no hiding that there must have been some crazy feelings flowing through her at that moment. To see someone she hadn’t seen since they were around two years old. Someone who is the son of one of her long-lasting childhood friends (who she also hasn’t seen in a long time) must have really meant something to her. And why wouldn’t it? I would be surprised if she hadn’t shed a tear or two! We sat together for a good few hours as she regaled me with stories of her time in the UK with my mum and her life in New York with an interesting mixture of New York and south England accents. She asked me lots of questions about what I was doing in Japan and the like and it truly was an enjoyable experience for me. Maybe not quite as emotional on the same level, but hearing stories of her and my mother when they were younger was extremely interesting and I got to see my mother in a different light.  

Not the best picture and yes, I am a bit sozzled.  

Being a very busy lady, she wasn’t able to stay long, but she was kind enough to make the mistake to tell the barman that everything was on the house for me that evening. I’ll admit that I may have been slightly liberal with the sauce, but I think we know by now that this is nothing to be surprised about. I hung on a little more to see if the girls I’d met the night before would make an appearance (not in a weird way, I told them about this place and they said they would come if they could), but alas, they did not. After a few more drinks I decided to leave and go back to my hotel at a reasonable time!  

After a much-needed and well-earned sleep, I was able to wake up at a good time. Just a few minutes’ walk down from my hotel was a café called ess a bagel that I thought I’d pop into for breakfast on my last day in New York. As with the pizza, how could I not have a bagel while I was there? 

It’s a bagel! Now they are an essential purchase on every Costco run.  

Yes, my time in New York was coming to an end, but there were still some things left for me to do before I got on the bus to Philadelphia and I didn’t have a lot of time to cram it all in! 

Memories are fallible but I think I remember where I was when the Twin Towers fell on September 11th 2001. I just got home from school and the afternoon news was on the telly, as always, and my mum told me what had happened. I can’t remember how I felt at the time as I watched the footage of the planes crashing into the buildings; I wasn’t too young not to understand what had happened, but not quite old enough to understand the cause and the effects of such an event. While I wouldn’t be able to see the Twin Towers, I walked down to the site where now the One World Trade Center stands in their place. I walked down to the water and had a little chat with my mum as I looked out towards the Statue of Liberty. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t get closer, but maybe next time!  

I made my way back up north and planned to go the MET. However, when I arrived the queue was just too long and there was no way I’d be able to get in and make my bus on time, so I decided to give up on that (again, maybe next time, eh?) and went The Hard Rock Café for lunch instead.  

After wandering around some more on my way to the bus (via the hotel to pick up my suitcase) I came across what was probably the strangest sight in New York so far. I didn’t take a video or any pictures just because I thought it was a bit insensitive, but there was a slightly elderly lady in a park, dressed in an odd black and white frock literally shouting at the top her voice while playing an instrument (I forget which one). Lots of people were crowding around watching and laughing as would be expected, but what I didn’t expect was a lady going up to her to join the performance by twerking at her. Call me sensitive, but I didn’t find it particularly funny and thought to move on.  

Passing by Trump Tower, I went back to the hotel to collect my suitcase and then went to the bus stop for my first domestic travel in America – to Philadelphia! Having lived in Japan for many years on and off, one gets to meet a lot of other foreigners from many different countries (far more than I ever did in the UK, for various reasons) and of course some of those friends are from America! Two of those many live in Philadelphia. Two friends with whom I went to university in Fukuoka and hadn’t seen about eight years so I was really looking forward to see them.  

Thousands of miles and many years apart, it was like nothing had changed and yet everything had.

Unfortunately one of them wasn’t able to stay out but the other treated me to a night out in a local pub. A night which to this day I have very little memory of. It started off so well, but with still more to tell of my trip to the US, I will leave that for next time.  

At the start of this series of blogs, I genuinely thought I could squeeze everything into three entries. Maybe I could have. Maybe I just need to improve my editing skills (which I know is for a fact true either way), but I don’t want to rush through everything and call it a day. That wouldn’t be very interesting, would it? So I’m going to have ask Sir for an extension. It’s my blog so I guess that’s me in this case, and I can confirm that this has already been approved.  

2 Comments »

  1. Hi Jeremy
    I so enjoyed Part 3. It brought back so many memories of my time in New York! The story of your mum’s friend reminded me of the day my phone rang in the office and this voice said “you don’t know me but I am your cousin Chuck in Boston” . That was 1976 and we are still emailing regularly.
    I lived on E35th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, the area was called Murray Hill. My pal Jenny lived up on 72nd Street, near Lennox Hill and Yorkville, so not far from Iggys. But of course it wouldn’t have been there then.
    You also happily reminded of when my friends Jane and Len from Manchester came to visit me and they bought a huge framed poster from the Met Museum which I brought home with me in my “heavy baggage”, ha ha. They still have it on their wall. Oh and they bought Martini glasses too. I wonder why. Perhaps they were exotic in Manchester back then, ha ha.
    The World Trade Centre had only just been completed and the “Windows on the World” restaurant on top of Tower 2 was a favourite for special occasions. And then I simply must tell you that my other friend, Janet, and I used to regularly frequent our local “Bagel Nosh”. ( They did excellent cheesecake as well). I loved your photos (Trump Tower didn’t go up until after I left ) and I think i recognised St Patrick’s Cathedral.
    Your mum’s friend looks lovely by the way.
    I am so glad you approved yourself an extension. Looking forward to Part 4. Anne.

    ________________________________

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