New York travel diaries

Author's note: The following blog post is compiled from my diary entries from my trip to New York on June 22-25, 2018. Some material has been omitted or edited for clarity, and some details were not reported on chronologically (i.e. I talk about things I did on previous days in later entries). Photos indicate the start of a new entry.

06/22/18

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I got into Stanfield about three hours before my flight departure time. Most of the stores were closed (aside from an A&W and Tim Horton's before security) and the airport was very quiet and peaceful. A few people were sleeping on benches with their bags beside them. I took a look around the airport once I checked in with the automatic kiosk; wandered through the skywalk to the lobby of the Alt Hotel, and started thinking of the places I would go to if I had the money and time.

Would I go solo? Would I want a companion?

Something about travel makes me think of certain people. The ghosts. Maybe I'm just more in love with the idea of travelling with them, a slightly romanticized image. I'm rambling here, forgive me. Standing in the lobby, I just kept thinking of it. I also think about solo travel a lot - taking off to a spot where you don't know anyone, aren't familiar with the area at all, and are just experiencing everything with fresh eyes.

It would be nice to share that experience with someone.

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I have to say I'm a little tired right now. I took a short nap right after I came home from work, but my lack of sleep is starting to catch up with me. I have the theme from Zig Zag stuck in my head right now (Does anyone else remember that show?)

One of the things I always forget about until I travel is how many small differences mark different regions. It's not just the landscapes and architecture, it's the things like signage, local brands and different retail chains. Back before media consolidation made each local TV station a clone of each other, you could get huge differences in TV programming in each city.
Right now, I'm in a climate controlled metal tube, sitting between two older people, just content to relax while we let this jet carry us to Toronto. There was a tiny bit of turbulence; it was strangely relaxing.

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I had to race to my connecting flight because the whole customs and security process took a while. In the future I probably should either look for a direct flight or a longer layover. I made it, but I was out of breath by the time I boarded.

I'm strangely not as tired as I thought I would be, but it would be wise to get some rest in the hotel; my back is a little sore. I'm currently looking over the Finger Lakes and farmland.
Travelling makes me feel like I normally exist in a fishbowl; there's enough to occupy me there, but the outside world doesn't seem to exist as a real place. I see the pictures and the stories online, but it doesn't really occur to me that my friends who live elsewhere are in their own microcosms. Social media provides the illusion of closeness. East Coasters also tend to have their hometowns as a huge part of their identity, so that even when someone plants down in Montreal or Toronto, it doesn't really feel like they left. Maybe I just don't feel it as much when I'm not super close to them.

06/23/18

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Didn't get around to writing much once I got in. Despite my sleep deprivation, I made it to 2:00 am. I'm sure I'm going to regret that in the long run but I'm glad I didn't pass out during The Golden Girls Live or Drunk Shakespeare. There was a lot of walking, a lot of sitting. I think I prefer going around the city in a small group of two than in a party of four. Less logistical issues regarding seating and deciding where to go. I dunno. I try to go with the flow but most of the time it's just to avoid a conflict or getting shot down.

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Trying to get as many of these thoughts remembered before they disappear. No time to write when you're out exploring or visiting with people. Whatever I feel when I experience something fades into memory immediately after.

Yesterday began with looking for food (and a place to sit) near the World Trade Centre. We found both at O'Hara's, a pub with a lot of police and fire badges on the wall. Carrie and Christy kept looking for all the Canadian cities; we spotted Miramichi and Saugeen Shores.
We made our way north, decided to get out at 14th Street for some reason or another (oh yes, to look for Big Gay Ice Cream.) Made our way down Christopher Street; looked for Stonewall, found it. Just continuously on the move, not really looking to go into places aside from where we planned. We got our ice cream (lived up to Carrie and Christy's hype), saw way more visibly queer people there in a few minutes than I do in a year at home. I loved seeing all the hot men there; not that I was in the mood to chat any of them up and go back to their place, but when you're in a place where the local LGBT population is quite small and tight-knit, sometimes the anonymity of the big city gives you ideas. If I didn't have company, peraps, but I've let myself go and can't guarantee I would be in the right head and body space. But I know what I like: I appreciate the physical beauty and have stronger emotional connection with women, but my body has a preference for men. I also love seeing a sea of lesbians and trans/nonbinary folk - they tend to have the best hair. These thoughts deserve more elaboration but I need to get to bed.

06/24/18

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Early rise to make it out to the city for the parade. Carrie elected to stay in bed (all peopled out). Money's a little tight (have to spend on trains, food, etc.) but I'll make do.

I haven't been able to sit down and write as much as I wanted to; so much of my time is spent walking and doing. I've been trying to get pictures of anything that catches my eye. There are a lot of landmarks in midtown but I don't need to go there today. When Carrie and I took the train away from there down to Soho to check out McNally Jackson, I appreciated the sky opening up as we got upstairs from the subway.

We made it to the Museum of Modern Art yesterday; definitely worth the time and money. It's one thing to see pictures of these paintings and sculptures in books or online; it's another to have them full size, right in front of you. Water Lillies - the full triptych. Starry Night. A sound suit by Nick Cave. Jackson Pollock. Andy Warhol. A new photography exhibit with many artists younger than I am. Using light, composition and color to evoke a mood. How do you do that without it being forced?

I still enjoy the novelty of American candy or brands that you can't find north of the border, or the slight differences in recipes in stuff that you can. Not especially "the genuine New York experience", but I would assume the genuine experience needs some mundane shit in there.
Had a blast at the shows on Friday, both in small theatres. The drag Golden GIrls show was great - "Sophia" went into the audience and "mistook" Carrie for Dorothy. Really nailed the style of the show and there were some nice digs at the Golden Palace (how many people remember that ill-advised idea?)

Drunk Shakespeare was good too - a 6-shots-in-already MacBeth with audience participation, a puppet, and one of the actor doing a different impression every time. Lady MacBeth was kind of cute.

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Resting our legs on the High Line. Parade was fun but overlong - my back and feet ached about three and a half hours in so I had to find a seat and some air conditioning. I think I'm going to skip the parade if I'm in NYC for Pride again; I'm not sure what I'd do. It would depend on the company I'm with. Carrie and I both get peopled out easily, while Christy and Stacey like going to shows more. I like seeing all the shirtless men, but I always feel like I'm in a set role whenever I go out with mys sisters and Stacey. I have them to chat with, and I don't feel comfortable breaking outside our bubble even when we split it in two.

If I had money, talent and American citizenship, I would live in New York. I never could take to the small town life.

I definitely like the pizza here better. Don't gag on the crust or get weak pepperoni like in Halifax.

I would travel here solo if I had a place to stay. There's so much to pack into a single trip, but I hate having to earmark all my time with specific places, worry about transit times, and the inevitable sore feet and exhaustion. I like the feeling of discovery when you walk in a certain direction and come across a place you've only read about. I love finding the little quiet pockets where you just take in the sights and sounds around you, watching everyone pass you by.
Sometimes I feel like my solitude is conspicuous in Halifax. I can't see that being a problem here.

06/25/18

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Waiting in the departure lounge at Pearson. My flight home's been delayed a few minutes. More time to breathe and rest. I was surprised how cramped the LaGuardia Air Canada departure area is compared to Newark, Pearson or even Stanfield.

On board now. Taking off in the dark. Trying to remember the rest of the details but I'm getting weighed down with a bit of a melancholy. It's weird; it's not sadness about the trip itself, but I think there were some bandaged wounds or buried desires brought to the surface by leaving the routine for a few days.

I'm getting the urge to take a few days, fly somewhere, get myself lost and try to get some sort of emotional catharsis. Maybe this is a response to my frequently recurring dream of being about to depart somewhere, only to never take off because I'm too busy trying to herd cats. Flying also reminded me of a dream I had a few years back where I was about to fly somewhere with a sloe-eyed woman I had a huge crush on at the time, only for security to dawdle when processing me, and as I raced to make my plane, my body suddenly froze; end of dream. (I had also watched season 1 of Master of None around that time, and the more I think about it, my companion in the dream was a composite of my crush and Noel Wells.)

As little as I wanted to do too many things that I did the last time I was in the city, I was more than happy to revisit the Strand. If I'm travelling anywhere, I usually want to hit up the bookstores (and the record stores, but I figured the Strand was an easier sell to the company I kept). I could browse the stacks there for hours; if I had more money to spend, my carry-on would be weighted down by all the books I'd buy.

My body was paying for all the time I stood and watched the parade, and I was relieved to get back to the hotel last night. I like having the distraction from the horror show that is the world from having all these things to do, but eventually you come to a point where you just crave a warm bed in a quiet room.

I want to see more of the other boroughs the next time I'm down. Queens looked interesting, the little I saw from the 7 train, the spot where I transferred to the bus,, and the route to the airport.

There was another game I kept playing in transit all weekend: "Who's travelling for Pride?" Woman with a septum ring and a rainbow sticker on her laptop? Hot bear with a bald head and full beard? Woman with a fade haircut? Sometimes I think I need to make it more apparent that I'm queer, or put a little more curation into my visual presentation. A few tattoos, maybe a piercing. I sometimes look in the mirror and feel unfinished, or at least not maintained enough.

Back to the image I would like to project as a couple; I know that's not the most important part of compatibility (connection, shared values, goals, outlooks, etc. all are way ahead in the queue), but I always either imagine going for a coolness or sophistication, or fully embracing the alien self I've tried to suppress to fit in more.

For someone who doesn't feel up to the demands of a relationship, I think about them a lot, and what I'd want in a partner. Smarter than me, but not condescending about it. Curious. Embraces their weirdness. Likes cats. Open minded/accepting of sexuality & gender (kind of a given). Not content to spend the rest of their existence the same bubble. But I have to figure out the answer to the question "who am I" before I can share myself with another.

Not too much further to go. Before I know I will be back on the ground, driving to my suburban apartment, dealing with an upset cat, and getting ready to start the routine again. It's best I don't do much for a while.