Thursday 15th September
Took the Subway train at 5:30am to meet with “Mutual Friends” at 96th Street after which I went to the Manhattan Diner for a breakfast of steak, scrambled eggs and fried mashed potato. After a quick stop at Starbucks for coffee I went back to the hotel and got ready to explore the City again. Another nice day, bright and sunny but nowhere near as hot as yesterday, pleased about that as it was intense heat and that can wipe me out.
We got the train Downtown and walked around Wall Street taking in the sights like the New York Stock Exchange, a Statue of George Washington outside the Federal Building where he took the oath to become Americas first President. We called in for Pizza before going to the Museum of the Native American Indian. I’ve always respected the way of the Native people, they are very spiritual beings and deeply in touch with a Greater Power. They have been unfairly done to by the people who settled here after them there’s no doubt about that, but to be fair the Museum was an excellent tribute. It was massive and I don’t think you could get round it in one visit. Some of the exhibits were over a thousand years old and I found it incredible both to the fact they had once belonged to somebody of high civilisation many years ago and also that they were still in pristine condition. Went to see the new One World Trade Centre and the 9/11 Memorial, it’s stunning but very moving, especially when talking about how it must have been that day. Stopped off at O’Haras Pub, a place I visited in my drinking days, first time I was here. It’s right on Ground Zero and I recalled the time the Barman asked me were we were from and when I told him Sunderland he went on to talk about Ian Porterfields goal in the ’73 FA Cup final. There’s a whole other story with that but that’s for another day.
We called into the Empire State Building restaurant for food and drinks and to generally chill out. There’s been plenty walking today and everybody was feeling the pace. It was great to just sit and watch the City move by through the window. I had deep fried dill pickles for starters followed by meatballs and spaghetti. Then a visit to the JJ Hat Centre on 5th Avenue and like my previous time there in April I bought a Paper Boy Hat, almost can’t wait for winter to wear it.
It’s been another day of staying present, remaining “Awake”to my surroundings and enjoying the experience of life in the present moment, the here and now, without feeling the need to pick up a drink and get hammered. Excellent day I’ve loved it.
Friday 16th September
Out on the Street just after 5am and it’s dark and very quiet, except for the homeless people who are up and on their way first thing, well most of them. A guy was crashed out asleep on the Subway Platform. You see a lot of homeless in the subway stations, some don’t come up for air for days as they feel safer down there. After seeing the “Mutual Friends” I took time to have a smoke on the street corner and just watch and listen. The city makes a quiet humming sound that’s easy to miss if your engaged in your thoughts, it’s the sound of traffic and people talking that vibrates from block to block. Watching people on there way to work and I’m feeling really relaxed and at peace. Talking about sights.. The women of NYC are something special, the percentage of pretty girls is way higher than anywhere I can remember seeing. Very pleasing to the eye.
The afternoon was spent at the Feast of San Gerrano in Little Italy. It’s an annual festival that goes on for days. Street vendors selling almost everything. The place was alive with people all having a good time. Had a lunch of clams and the best shrimp risotto I’ve ever tasted in my life at the restaurant – Sofia’s of Little Italy. Afterwards I bought cheesecake in a Almond and Chocolate cone. It was incredible but I couldn’t finish it as I was busting full. However that changed when I saw a stall selling half a dozen Oysters for $9, I couldn’t help myself and they were divine. A cigar stall had a guy rolling cigars from the leaves and when I saw a type named after Winston Churchill I had to buy a couple, one to smoke later and one to keep as a souvenir.
The crowds were massive and when we had had enough decided to get a taxi to the Subway station as it was quite a walk. 4 times I’ve been to NYC now and I’ve always found the people the most friendly, polite and helpful, so I guess I’d had a good run before bumping into a first class berk and that was our taxi driver. He proper got on my nerves and I kept telling myself to practice a little patience (Very different from the me pre 41 years old). Anyways my mood was altered for the negative so I decided to make another meeting of “Mutual Friends” at 12th Street, then grabbed a Pizza after, so all ended very well.
Another good day of staying present and “Awake” loving life, it’s great to be sober and taking it all in.
Saturday 17th September
Decided I would spend the morning and afternoon doing my own thing, just taking it steady and hoping on and off subway trains as I fancy. After the 6am at 96th Street I had a siesta for a couple of hours then got a train down to the 12th Street meet. No sooner as I got on, the driver announced that a passenger had took ill on another carriage and the packed train half emptied, so I got a seat. A man sat next to me and within minutes he was cursing and swearing under his breath, very jumpy and kept checking behind out of the window to see if another train was at the other platform. I could feel the temper and impatience coming from him. I can tune into that crap if I’m not careful, so again I stayed focused on my breathing and picked a spot to stare at. 5 minuets passed and he got off looking really wound up with himself, I noticed I wasn’t bothered either way.
Walking from the train there was a couple of drunks on the corner of 12th Street & 1st Avenue, drinking out of brown paper bags. I chuckled to myself remembering the days not long ago that I would have made friends with them at the drop of a hat. After an hour with “Mutual Friends” I called into the Tallgrass Burger. I ate there last time I was here and the All American Burger with Sweet Potato Fries was every bit as good as I remembered. Walking back towards the Subway I took a different route and passed the Salvation Army Hostel, a lot of homeless men sitting outside looking very downhearted and intoxicated. This is a great city but no place to be if your down on your luck, you need a decent job to keep your head above water here. I chucked a dollar in the buskers basket at the 14th Street Subway station and again to the Saxophone player on the platform on 72nd Street.
We took a taxi to Times Square to the Ambassador Theatre to see Chicago. What an amazing show that was, thoroughly enjoyed the performance and I was completely “Awake” & present the whole time. When it finished we went into Hurleys Irish Bar over the road and I got thinking that I’ve been totally ok been in bars, the best yet since I quit drinking, though I don’t think I be making too much of a habit of it, people tend to start talking a load of tosh when they’ve had a few as well as repeating themselves, but hey, if that’s the worst I’d done I’d still be drinking.
Food tonight was in a Brazilian Restaurant – Chicken Livers for starter followed by Brazilian Paella. Having a last smoke before bed outside the hotel, it’s dark and peaceful and my mind is still and quiet. Another day where I’ve lived life to the full without trying to control things I can’t control, it’s been awesome.
Sit loosely in the saddle of life – Robert Louis Stevenson.
Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin as Self-neglecting. – William Shakespeare.