Tuesday 28th August
5.05pm and 34 degrees outside. Lucky for me I’m in 21 degree air conditioned comfort sipping on Blue Point Brewing’s Toasted Lager American style Amber. How it’s a lager and amber is beyond me. This afternoon I went for a wander. Not straying too far, I jay-walked like a local, I clung to the shade and I even had a cold coffee. It wasn’t from Starbucks, I promise. I took a cut through Bloomingdales – it’s just like any other city department store, in case you’re wondering – and passed by Sephora, Zara and H&M.
What made it feel unlike my hometown though was a few things. New York in the summer has a particular odour. It’s fetid. Stale urine, fried food, refuse in bags on the sidewalk, engine exhaust and subway venting all mix to produce an assault on the nostrils. Every now then it hits me in a wave and I reel back.
Hot dog carts on every corner selling dirty-water dogs, salted pretzels, iced drinks and more. I’ve not bought anything as they couldn’t appeal any less to me. I like trashy food but I can’t imagine that anything tastes good from them. Dubious refrigeration concerns me as much as flavour. I congratulate people for making a dollar where they can but I’m going skip the dirty-water dogs, thanks all the same.
I’m staying in the Upper East Side between Central Park and the Roosevelt Island Tramway. I mention the tramway because I’ve found it a useful visual guide to help me get my bearings. Numbering the streets helps immensely too. Now all I have to do is remember the address of my apartment.
On approach to the front door of the lobby I like to play a game. I try to hide behind the outside columns as I walk up and then suddenly appear by the glass doors. It keeps the doormen on their toes and their reflexes sharp. Only once have I managed to get my hand to the handle and attempt to open it myself. I smile and greet them and mostly they respond in kind.
There’s a sassy one I really like called Marek. He’s polish, tall and always wears black trousers, white shirt and black tie. He enquirers as to our day’s intended activities when we’re on our way out. He commiserates on the oppressive humidity when we return drained and battered. One evening after dinner at an Italian restaurant two doors over, Richard remained to philosophise about world issues. It was more than half an hour later that he’d finally appear back upstairs.