Tuesday 9 June 2015

A Lesson In Liberty - The NYC Diaries

Sunset from the top deck.

Today is my 4th day living in New York City, and the first time I've felt a pang of something I guess I was waiting to feel. 

As the weather has been unfathomably beautiful since I arrived, I decide to venture out into Brooklyn and explore my new neighborhood. I skip merrily down the cobbled block where multi-coloured flowers line the street outside Chelsea Flower Market, peruse hungrily through the aisles of organic food in Fairways and even wander into a local art gallery which is hosting a free exhibition based around Hurricane Sandy and the effect it had on the community. Just down the street from the gallery, the waterfront is perfectly framed by piers, docks and oil rigs - even an old rusted tram car on display. The sense of a nautical community is palpable in Red Hook, from little anchors on the sides of all the trashcans, to the huge theatrical and boisterous fronts of Brooklyn Crab and The Bait & Tackle Bar. It feels warm, authentic and rich in community. Red Hook, Brooklyn feels like it could easily become home.

I stroll down Van Brunt street, passing antique sales, yoga studios and wine bars galore, and eventually slip into a lone diner chair at the Hope & Anchor with my notebook and pen- a bacon, lettuce and avocado club seeing me perfectly. 

Walking back through the golden afternoon sun later on , I take a turn toward the marina and completely unexpectedly stumble upon the most beautifully uninterrupted view of the Statue of Liberty, backdropped by the Manhattan skyline. She's usually just about visible from the top deck of the boat, but just a few minutes down the street, there she was, across the water in all her glory. 

I'm struck dumb by her beauty, but another feeling creeps in too.

Because usually I'd exclaim. I'd reach out and squeeze the arm of a friend, relishing in their pleasure and excitement just as much as my own, both giddily musing about what we have been lucky enough to see. But this time I was silent. Not out of ungratefulness or disinterest - believe me, it was a magical thing to behold - but because with a twang of dismay, I realised that a beautiful moment is so much more evocative and powerful when you have someone to share it with.

And all of a sudden, Lady Liberty made me feel incredibly alone.

I gave a small smile and retraced my steps over the already-familiar cobbles back toward The Yankee, my new home.

Believe me when I say this place is absoloutely incredible, greater than I ever could have dreamt and I've already created a host of memories with the wonderful and hilarious crew members. But I suppose I pine for authentic familiarity, those I know so well, and they I, who I realise are so far away, in another land, another time. 

I always knew I'd learn a lot from New York City, but perhaps this strange movie-land of over 8 million people will teach me a little something about loneliness too.