After a restful week at home in rural Pennsylvania with my parents, I decided to spend a few days in New York before I flew out of JFK. Whenever I have to travel with these kinds of layovers, I try to make the layover into a trip in itself and over the past few years, I’ve gotten to know NYC really well because of these mini excursions pre and post traveling abroad.
Things were going pretty wonderfully starting on Thursday when I arrived in my friend Katie’s neighborhood up in the Columbia University area. Roaming around it looked like it might rain for a bit so I stopped by a quaint little public library right on Broadway St. where I found some craft books, an Arabic lessons book and a GRE prep book to warm up to. Yes that last book was a bit harder to warm up to. Multiple choice questions are not what they used to be. There’s a section in the GRE with multiple choice that could have one, two or three right answers. And you have to say them all or you’ll lose the entire point! Blasphemy!
Ah well, in any case, I can never get over how incredible libraries are. Books, bathrooms, water fountains, free wi-fi and electrical outlets…really what more could you want?!
Later in the evening Katie and I made salads and took them to Riverside Park and had dinner on a bench. The sky was filled with pastels and the weather was perfect. Oh summer days. Got some mango drip stains on my only pair of shorts but I suppose there’s more where that came from. Maybe I should circle each stain and label it with the source and the date!
The next day, I got to have lunch with a Swat alum working near Bryant Park and then I spent a couple of hours in the Japanese bookstore/cafe extravaganza, Kinokuniya. So many delicious arts and crafts books to peruse! Then my friend Simon and I went and walked the High Line!
It came highly recommended to me by some good friends and boy were they right! Basically its a raised up path/park running through the city with fun little areas to sit down, wet your feet and look at the beautiful flowers blooming. Simon and I tried a couple of “People’s Pop” popsicles that were quite unique and really hit the spot on such a hot summer day.
At 7PM I had a very exciting meeting to make. Q-Wave and GAPIMNY (two queer API groups based in NYC) were having a joint meeting to make posters for the upcoming Manhattan pride parade! A friend in Q-Wave told me about it and I knew I had to be there. Over thirty folks came out and we made a collection of bright, glittery and witty posters. Afterwards we went to K-town (Koreatown) for food and drinks.
This is about when I was thinking “Gosh I LOVE NYC!” This was perhaps the culprit of what proceeded to happen. Well you see, we went to a party in Brooklyn hosted by the Brooklyn Boihood crew and parked on a gentrified and very well-lit area in Williamsburg. I put my heavier bag in my friend’s car trunk after we parked. Little did I know that that was the last time I’d see my new camera, favorite cardigan and scarf, water bottle, hat and other random objects. *sigh* An hour later I came back to get my things but of course it was probably taken within ten minutes of our parking the car.
I felt two emotions at once: despair and liberation. I’ve never had anything stolen from me (at least not that I know of and nothing expensive) so I was really caught off guard. At the same time, I recalled my complaints and feelings of anxiety at having to carry a heavy and expensive camera around in many of the countries I’ll be going to. As Katie told me “The world took care of it for you.” Indeed, I feel like everything happens for a reason. But imagine if my passport was in that bag? Well I’d be royally stumped right about now.
According to the police, if I give them lots of details plus my receipt of purchase for the camera, their detectives have a better chance of finding it. We’ll see. I just wish the people who took my bag had the heart to send me my SD card and other personal items. Wishful thinking I know.
Anyhow, Anjali let me stay at her place in Brooklyn that night and I started the next day with a fresh outlook and thoroughly enjoyed myself. My cousin came down from Boston to see me and we had a grand time in the office section of Staples, chit-chatting and catching up. For dinner, we found a delicious Peruvian restaurant in Greenpoint.
I went to two more parties, one queer party (Sweat) and a house party which was 90s themed. At Sweat, one of my new friends who danced salsa extremely well, found another girl to dance it with and the crowd moved to give them room. It was honestly one of the most beautiful moments at a party I’ve witnessed in a long time. It makes me anticipate the dancing cultures of the countries I’m about to go to. It also made me vow to master salsa and tango in Latin America! Dance–the language of our bodies…
As the name of the party indicated, sweat was very clearly unavoidable. I was drenched but the air outside kissed my skin with its warm summer vibes as we walked towards the 90s music a few blocks down. A really fantastic night. I stayed at a friend’s place in Queens and then got up this morning to get Colombian breakfast at a place in Queens called “Seba Seba” with a an high school classmate who I hadn’t seen in 5 years! I tried a fruit juice made from a fruit I had never had before called Lulo:
Yum! I thought it was pretty funny that I was having Colombian food in NYC the day before going to Colombia.. but you know it was delicious! Guess I got a sneak preview.
So that pretty much ended my stay in NYC! I had to go back to Katie’s place to get my luggage but then I was off to JFK airport! And now I’m in Fort Lauderdale, FL waiting for my connection flight to take me to Bogota! It’s finally starting to feel real that I won’t be back in the US for the next year +.
It’s 4:30AM and my plane leaves at 8AM! Phew.. now you know why this post is so long. Guess I’ll do some reading after this.
Good night and see you later North America!