Ten years ago I had never really ventured past the Rockies, never been to Europe, never traveled alone. I didn't have much money but scraped together enough for a birthday trip to NYC, booking a ticket that connected in half a dozen cities before depositing me in the middle of the night in a shuttered and frozen Long Island airport.
Along the way, despite my best efforts (and a faux fur hat with kitten ears), I had collected a menagerie of fellow travellers who needed assistance and succour. After I transported and delivered the fractured stepfamily, the elderly man, and the blind woman to a central Brooklyn subway station I thought that I could finally start the adventure.
I caught a yellow cab and gave the driver the address, but he claimed he did not know how to find Fort Greene. We finally found Karen's house thanks to my nonexistent navigational skills, and I said a quick thanks to a dear friend not knowing that she would vanish from my life forever.
By the time I argued my way through another woeful taxi ride to Pam's flat I had been in transit for nearly twenty hours in subzero weather, wearing clothes more suited to the temperate NW because anything heavier was impossible over a fresh half-sleeve tattoo.
I was so relieved to slip the key into the lock, and hear the thunk as it turned. . . and then, snap! The key broke off in my hand.
My host was out of town, the neighbours asleep. Whatever to do?
I picked the lock, of course.
What an auspicious start!
Next up: an historic blizzard! I was food poisoned not once but twice! Byron arrived to join the fun but instead succumbed to the same vomitous malady, and we spent New Year's Eve alternating between retching and watching ominous movies that pondered the question of what would happen to civil liberties if there were ever a serious terrorist attack against the city.
Once he departed I recovered just enough to borrow a strange suede coat and rummage up a warmer hat before meeting Ayun, with brand-new baby Milo strapped to her chest. We walked around in the slush and went shopping at Vivienne Tam for some mysterious reason - Greg, or Urinetown, had been nominated for an award that would necessitate grown-up clothes at the ceremony. As we trudged through upscale downtown NY she (Ayun, that is) informed me that my hat looked like a fuzzy brown toilet seat cover, a fair claim, and ten years later she likes to remind me of that fashion transgression.
I wish one of us had been sufficiently geeky to take photographs. Though I continue to wear the hat, so we could stage a re-enactment. We would just need to borrow a fresh baby.
The only true trauma occurred when I took off the coat and hat, revealing my inked arm. Strangers talked to me! Museum guards flirted with me! For the first time in my entire life!
Oh the horror.
The trip, while dire, was super fun - and it set the agenda for the next decade in both outline and subheadings.
Generous people (or hippies) would say my thirties offered "learning opportunities" and "emotional growth." I call it chaotic unacceptable nonsense. Same difference!
Since then, everything has changed and everything is still the same. I just keep moving, so far and so fast I often forget which country I am standing in.
Happy New Year! Cheers to the past, the future, the probable and the impossible! Happy birthday to all the sad winter babies and remember: spring is coming soon!