Fun and the City

Trip Start Jun 12, 2008
Trip End Jun 20, 2008

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Flag of United States  , New York
Friday, June 20, 2008

The first day we made it our business to wear out and completely destroy our feet walking across Manhattan from Times Square all the way down to Financial district and up to Brooklyn Bridge. Went across the bridge, felt exhausted and took a cab to get our tired old bodies back home.

Won't comment the taxi drivers. To say that I was terrified each time they accelerated to take over, would be an understatement, but we never had any accident and arguably haven't even seen an accident involving a taxi, so I guess those guys really know what they are doing.

To celebrate the fact that we were finally in New York we decided to splurge and go to one of the posh restaurants on Times Square - The view. The place is on the 49th floor and on a moving platform, so while you eat you get to see the whole panorama of the city at night. The bill of $400 for only 3 girls (with healthy appetite of course).

Another observation about NY, and also about America in general - their love for air conditioning. The more expensive the place the more they spend on air conditioning. I really don't understand what it is with their profuse sweating problem or their brain but the constant freezing is really annoying. And I am Russian. I know cold, for Christ's sake, I can deal with it. This was indeed intolerable. I was left wondering if a nation that advanced in inventing new technology just doesn't have enough time to read instructions on how to use the old one, and that they maybe are just not aware of the fact that there is usually a special knob on each machine, which allows to regulate the temperature. Has no one ever told them that there are other regimes than just on or off? Awful!

After the restaurant we were back in the street, and although it was raining, at least there was no immediate threat to catch pneumonia. Still, dressed up as we were, in open toe shoes and in heels we weren't particularly excited at the prospect of walking to the disco on foot and under the rain. And given that there were no free taxis at this time of the night we were really fucked up. Stood there, by the road for a couple of minutes hailing a cab (which was hopeless anyway). And then a wonderful thing happened - an Indian taxi bike guy offered his humble service. I had never pictured myself as a type of girl who'd be using such kind of transport, but there I was, with not much choice and the guy offering a quick solution. The roof of this luxury carriage was a transparent piece of plastic which rolled down and zipped around the seat so the rain didn't get through into our cozy and cold saloon. We did look extremely ridiculous trying to master as much dignity as we could after we had just got off this thing and shook the drops of rain from the top of our heads (the ones that got in through the hole in the plastic roof) by the entrance to the disco and to the applause of the bouncers.

The disco (called Latin quarter) was that typical place filled with stupid girls like us who just come to enjoy dancing in a hope to spend a fun night and rich guys who come to watch them and in a hope to hook up with all those girls. The dancing floor was good, music was Latin, drinks were quality and people were well dressed and decent. I do like salsa, people know it. But as I regretfully discovered it's apparently already not enough to turn me on and I certainly admit that that was the kind of night when all was there... but for the spark. We left relatively early when the crowd became bigger and the DJ started playing the same tunes again (has run out of the commercial popular stuff, I guess).

Later that night, I couldn't help but wonder, in childhood a simple set of colored crayons or a stuffed monkey can bring you so much joy you'll run around happy the whole day. As we get older, a new hi tech model of a mobile phone or a night out that we were looking forward to fail to get us to the same level of excitement. Even a hobby, which salsa is for me, doesn't make you happy when you expect it to. As we age, are we really getting so cynical that we are no longer capable of feeling genuinely positive emotion?

Next morning we were supposed to meet the dawn in Central park. Were late for the dawn, of course, but still came to lie around there, on the grass and eat up the fat free food we had bought at Starbucks on the way there. We then idly gathered our belongings to proceed to the nearest cinema and watch Sex and the City. The trick was that it hadn't yet begun in Moscow, but was already running in American cinemas. It felt really New York to be doing all these things. Unlike wild Japanese tourists sprinting around the city in shorts and with their Sony cameras hanging over their shoulders, we were actually enjoying a typical day in the rhythm of the city.

We spent the rest of the day looking for that perfect dress I needed for my cousin's wedding, a task which is difficult enough under normal circumstances, but is even more so in my case, given my innate aversion to shopping and an allergy to seeing myself in a mirror.
It is somehow always a stress to find an elephant in a tutu in the fitting room mirror and then fight off the urge to hang yourself after that. Unfortunately my little friend decided to make up for the lack of excitement on my part and took to the task with an enviable zest.
I truthfully think she did bring the ugliest and most ridiculously looking prom dresses she could find. Not that I think I'm old or anything, but let's face it, I'm also not 16 any more to be able to get away with puffy sleeves and in Barbie pink skirts. And having those sexy sausage arms does not really help either. She continued frantically around the shop and no moaning of mine could discourage her. On the other hand, the fact that they were soo outrageously awful made it seem more like a joke, and as she insisted I try them all on I couldn't even seriously get upset about not fitting into them. I mean, thank god, I didn't! It would honestly be a disaster if smth that ugly fit me well. We had a good laugh though.
She also didn't care much for the sizes, although I explicitly asked not to bring anything small that would make me feel like a cow. She was just enjoying the process. Luckily there was another more result driven and less excited person among us. They both went whisking back and forth after every failed attempt while I was trying not to rip the previous dresses when taking them off. The thing that struck me most about shopping in NY is that it's indeed very diverse. One can find anything in any color. If they have enough time that is, cuz the challenge is really to find it. This is when it's important to have untiring friends like that who can be tolerant and supportive and basically do all that for you. It would have been a nightmare without them, but with their positive attitude and my despair we did find one that even I with my pickiness liked in the end. What I also realized afterwards was that it was the first time in my whole life when I actually enjoyed shopping. Thanks again to everyone who participated.

The next night I signed us up for a Latin boat party and we went, dressed up and all, for another night on town. The boat traveled around Manhattan from 6:30pm till 10:30pm and people were there to dance salsa. We managed to get a nice table by the side after I flirted a bit with the bouncer (who happened to be Russian), which was ideal because I could no longer worry for my friends (let's just say, not very huge fans of salsa) who would have otherwise very soon started suffering from the fact that they were stuck on a Latin boat with freaks like me, with no other entertainment than salsa and no opportunity to leave early, but now they could sit there sipping their drinks and enjoy the best views of the city from water - and that, I figured, would keep them distracted for a while.
Now, I can't say what exactly made it so outstandingly special that night. Perhaps that unique combination of several factors which all weaved into a perfect picture. Warm summer wind, picturesque sunset to the beat of familiar Latin rhythms and Lady Liberty on the horizon. I really couldn't wish for more.
Still, it was that rare perfect moment in life when you feel completely happy and realize that you are. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face the whole time and I can't even logically explain what it was that triggered such reaction.

Objectively seen, it was a boat full of short balding men from the third world countries, which no one would call a desirable or fun company (although they did dance well, most of them), it was definitely the last place to cruise guys and the ladies were as fat as dzudo fighters. But ultimately when the moment is right, all of this doesn't matter. It wasn't about them any more. And then I realized, when it stops being about them, about what is supposed to be right or fun, about what the society deems is appropriate, and starts being about you, this is when the real fun begins.
So may be we are becoming pickier and more difficult to please as we get older, it takes much more to surprise or excite us as we have experienced more things in life, but it's still good to realize deep inside we still have it, and there are moments that can get us so high the feeling lasts much longer than that childish joy from stupid crayons.

All in all, New York was great, as ever and I'm deffo coming back again.
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