Today Went On for Weeks (USA Day 1)
It’s hard to measure a day when it started in a different continent. All I know is, we got up at 3am in the UK and are heading to bed at what used to be 3am, but isn’t. It’s 10pm. That’s twenty-four hours, a long day by anyone’s standards, but made longer by what filled it.
I’ve been to America once, and I was small and nine, so excuse my surprise at this: New York is bonkers. The energy it exudes is incredible – a different scene on every street corner, often tense with its homelessness and overcrowding, often jolly and vibrant, all highly commercialised. Times Square attracts tourists from around the world to…look at advertisements. The smells are all too strong: disinfectants spilling from shop fronts into gutters, smoked meats sizzling in street corner hot dog vans, strangely fruity air fresheners all over the place.
We bagged ourselves a hotel tonight thanks to my US publishers, Simon and Schuster, and it’s total luxury. Our 26th floor view spans sleek Manhattan skyscrapers and busy streets beeping with their classic gamut of yellow taxis and wandering vagrants. We can’t afford this on our own though: we’ll move on to WarmShowers hosts from tomorrow.
Our bikes exist now, thanks to Sid’s Bikes on West 19th Street. They tinkered away, fitting pannier racks and adjusting brakes until we were happy to wobble off on the unfamiliar things, testing the gears, figuring out the one-way-system, weighing up various dinner options. Our eventual decision, three enormous slices of pizza slathered with, in no particular order, mozzarella, artichoke and chicken and bacon with ranch, was fine. Down the street, a woman in a wheelchair wearing nurse’s scrubs begged sullenly for a dollar.
Shopping for functional trousers, a camera case and a pair of sunglasses was more than wearing on our frayed brains. Dazed and dreamy, we wandered through a mall and emerged, hours later, with exactly what we wanted and no clear memory of how it had happened.
When the sun disappeared only about twelve hours too late I cheered internally.
Let’s make tomorrow a little shorter.