Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Pilgrimage to New York

Watching the truly amazing story unfold in the American elections,who would have thought it,from Rosa Parks to Barack Obama in my lifetime.
My generation "The Baby Boomers" came through the 60's/70's with a love hate relationship with America, hate for its foreign policy and the uncivilised way it treated some of its citizens.
and love of its culture-music-and great writers.
So despite having done the marching,the demonstrations,the protesting I had always fancied living in Greenwich Village New York,hanging out in Washington Square Park with the rest of the beat generation singing " The times they are a changing" with Mr Zimmerman playing his guitar.
It never happened,mainly due to the lack of money but also London was a happening place too.
last year was a major landmark for me "60 years" and in answer to Rosie's question of where is the one place you have always wanted to go? it was a no brainer.
Delivering 2000 telephone directories and the selling of a original poster from the Spanish civil war on e-bay provided most of the finance and endless surfing the net got us a forth floor illegal sublet apartment on Thomson and Bleeker for one week.
I spent hours on the Internet researching and in particular the Greenwich village web cam on the corner opposite bleeker street and macdougal watching the locals come and go passed the Italian cafe on the corner,impatient to be there.
One long flight two films one mad taxi-ride (he had a map on his knee asking ME for directions) and carrying suitcases up 4 floors and we were there, our own "village apartment" sorry i will just repeat that, our own village apartment, that's what us locals call Greenwich village.
The week passed in a blur so much to do so much to see-No-Ho So-H0 Dumbo-empire state building ( not me,too scared) flat iron building-Ellis island, the statue of liberty, grand central station, time square by day and time square by night but always at the end of the day back home to the village, and back home it truly felt, I could have stayed there the whole week, and longer.

They say that there is always one moment that defines a pilgrimage,mine came at the end of the week, Rosie and number 3 daughter Emily had serious shopping to do and a sex and the city tour to attend. I had one day one whole day to myself,
on the stairs I met a young women and her child struggling with a pushchair, as i gave a hand the child called me daddy,and in my best polite English I said I would love to be but unfortunately i wasn't
the mother then said my accent was charming and was I Australian!!!,I explained who I was, chatted a bit longer and then went on my way.

The day was spent in nostalgic wanderings along well known but unvisited places subway out to Brooklyn heights walk back to Manhattan across the bridge,viewing the place of George Washington's retreat across the east river,subway to the start of bleeker street and walking the whole length right through to the Hudson
Stopping for a break at Washington square park where the students still play guitars but viewed me with suspicion watched the chess matches taking place ,too shy to sit down and play.
walked positively along west 4th street saw the basketball taking place by the subway.wishing I was just a few years younger and able to take part.
Finely sitting down at my cafe on bleeker and macdougal opposite my well watched web-cam ate my meal at the pavement table drinking too much wine ,reflecting how foolish this old man was trying to live the past in this tourist town, when i was hailed from across the street by my neighbor and her child,I smiled and waved back and continued to smile for the next half hour because for a couple of seconds this mother and child had made me feel like a local,sad maybe but this simple greeting made my week.
so all those years ago maybe change was happening and still is " better start swimming or you'l sink like a stone for the times they are a changing"

No comments:

Post a Comment