I love traveling. Not in any geographical escape manner, though I’ve tried that a few times. It doesn’t work. Everywhere I go I take me with me. However there is one place I love to visit that allows me just to be comfortable with exactly who I am. That place is New York City. There is something about that particular spot on the planet that just swallows me up and gives me a head space which could best be described as “not giving a fuck!”
I’ve just returned from my 5th time in the greatest city on earth and again it was a wonderful experience. With all its hustle and bustle, near constant flow of people, traffic and obvious problems on the surface around homelessness and mental ill health. I’ve never felt more at home! Staying present and focused on the here and now, exactly what’s in front of me while dealing with reality feels totally intuitive there. It seems to happen in a way that I have to work hard on a daily basis to achieve anywhere else. I fall more and more in love with the Big Apple each time I go there.
This time it was that bit extra special as I was travelling with my son. It was his first time in the States and it was great to be able to show him round. I know the City well. I can find my way around without any real difficulty. Im at home there and have friends who I like to touch base with as soon as I land. This time was no different. We met up with my good friend Eoin as soon as we dropped the bags in the hotel. We sat down to some Korean food then walked the High Line Park. It was built out of a disused railway line on the Lower Westside running from 14th street up to 34th along 10th Avenue some one and a half miles. It is elevated and has a constant view looking down on the City and over at the Hudson River. We walked and talked, taking in the incredible views, stopping for ice cream along the way. It quickly became obvious that my sons eyes where opening to the fact this was a little different to anything he had experienced before. I resisted the temptation to start taking control and becoming a fount of information. I just rolled with it, allowing him to experience it his way while dropping into the conversation anything I deemed important.
Hitting the street at 5am to take the Subway from Hells Kitchen up to 96th street to meet up with “Mutual Friends” Im aware of the fact my mind is calm and tuned into my surroundings. Unlike the instant attack of compulsive thoughts I awake to back home. Something Ive grown to be grateful for. The routine I’ve developed to cope with this has gave me so much more in return. Still it’s nice to have a break from it and be able to walk out the door on a morning after a quick wash and grab a coffee on route.
The week itself was incredible. Mostly just to be with my boy. He stuck by the old me through thick and thin. When everybody at one point or another turned their back on me for a time as I sank further and further into a drink and drug induced madness and the chaos that brings. He was always there! We have always been close and have a solid bond. But like all relationships there comes a time when some space opens up and he has forged his own life. We never really get time to spend more than a day here and there together and thats cool as long as he is happy and healthy. So having this week together on the other side of the world in a place I feel so relaxed in was a massive privilege.
We got round quite a bit. A visit to Gleasons Boxing Gym in Brooklyn and walked the Brooklyn Bridge. The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. Times Square and a steak at the world class steak house ‘Gallaghers’. Central Park. “A Bronx Tale” at a Broadway theatre. A Baseball game at Citi fields. Football (Soccer they call it) at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. A train ride out to Jersey Shore to spend a day at the beach, and various sight seeing, restaurants and bars. I know it couldn’t have been easy on the boy enjoying a few beers with a middle aged man and former hell raiser as I sipped on ice cold Coca Cola. But he made the best of it. Something I would have found extremely difficult at his age. We had a great time. All the while knowing that like minded “Mutual Friends” are never far away in this Metropolis and always pleased to see me as I walk through the door. A true miracle and one I cherish and feel blessed to be so firmly connected with.
The whole week the weather was hot and sunny. Except for the day we came home. It rained heavily in a thunder storm those few hours as we prepared to head out to the Airport after lunch. It would be easy for me to fantasise that it was the City’s way of saying “So long, it was great to see ya again, sorry your going come back soon”. I like to think so, who knows!
Back home all is as I left it. Same crazy head, same little struggles. Same tried and tested 80 year old program that delivers sanity on the grounds that “half measures avail us nothing!” Back to a new job I started 2 weeks before jetting off. All is well. Its great to be alive and even better to be sober. All of it thanks to an amazing world wide fellowship of people that started with 2 men, one from NYC, sitting down together admitting that on their own they were fucked! I thank ‘Him as I understand Him’ for including me in that and all that it has given me.
“You can hear it in my accent when I talk I’m an Englishman in New York” ~ Sting.
D&O in Fresno