February 06, 2015

Sky Miles and Snowflakes

In all my travels, I've never been struck down by the dreaded ailment known as "delays", or the even more serious condition of "cancellations". I've been fortunate. I've known people stranded at airports or struggling to make their way home. On one of her trips, my mother found herself the on first night in the middle of a cyclone. I was at home seeing all the news coverage of this cyclone and of course unable to reach her via telephone for days. Given the flooding caused by the cyclone she was unable to cut her holiday short and leave immediately as no flights were going in or out of the airport. Despite the inconveniences, she was safe and unaffected and unlike those who had to repair their lives, was very easily able to make her way home once flights recommenced. 

I write this sitting in my apartment in Brooklyn, having now been in New York City for a week. My original plans would have seen me arrive on January 27 but the weather had other plans and decided to schedule Blizzard Juno to visit the city that day which resulted in my flight being cancelled. I spent most of Australia Day attempting to clarify my travel plans as the airline changed their flight schedules throughout the day as they received weather updates. My flight was at first delayed by three hours and then later in the afternoon I received a phone call from Cathay Pacific advising that it had been cancelled altogether and provided me with the option of departing Perth the next day so as to save me waiting an entire day in Hong Kong for my connecting flight. For that I was grateful as my own bed is certainly much more comfortable than any seat in an airport lounge. 

Once I breezed through the gates of JFK and out into the icy air, the delay was nothing more than a minor glitch. It certainly is cliche to say, but New York City and I certainly have quite the love affair. As my cab made its way to my apartment, the snow covered streets welcomed me back like I had never left.

Ironically, I fell in love with this city at the same time that I was falling out of love with a past relationship that had spanned a number of years. Rather than the end of this relationship resulting in me developing some sort of bittersweet connection to the city, I actually feel I saw it through the eyes of a person embarking on a new journey and adventure in life and made me realize that the change wouldn't be as difficult as I thought it might be. To this day I still remember walking off after an argument on a tree lined street in the West Village with the poor fella trailing after me, and an older man sitting on his stoop laughing to himself and shaking his head in sympathy at my then-partner.

Don't get me wrong though. New York City isn't entirely a fairy tale land. Granted it is a vastly different place to only just a few years ago with more and more neighbourhoods undergoing gentrification, resulting in both positive and negative change, yet it can still be a gritty place. Life here can be tough and that comes through in the people, especially if you spend enough time in the outer boroughs. Even something as simple as the weather makes me notice how resilient the people are. With temperatures remaining on the minus side of the thermometer since I have been here, not to mention a small snow storm by the name of Linus hitting earlier this week, I am shivering even with my thermals and down filled jacket, which was in fact purchased on a previous trip here and has only ever been worn here. It's just doesn't get cold enough in Perth! I'm standing on the subway platforms shivering away while I see people walking by without gloves covering their hands and women with sheer hosiery. I just don't know how they do it.

But do it they do. In all aspects. Undoubtedly it's the people that make up the fabric up any city. A favourite aspect of travelling is meeting new people and learning just a little bit more about my global neighbours. And in the week I've been here and all who I have met and interacted with, from the Dominican ladies in the hair salon who gave me the best blow dry of my life to the older gentlemen pausing in their task of shovelling snow off the sidewalks to let me pass by to the sweet Jamaican woman at the laundromat who helped to locate my clothes which had gone home with someone else, it couldn't be more apparent that a place is nothing without its people.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post about embracing changing relationships and an ongoing love of a favourite city.

    Can't wait to read more.

    SSG xxx