Hey! I’m Walkin’ Here: A New York State of Mind

New York, New York, it’s a hell of a town. The city so nice they named it twice. Gotham City. The Big Apple. The City that Never Sleeps. Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of. Home.
For almost two years I called New York home and every single day of it is ingrained in me. It hasn’t been that long since I’ve been home but every single day that I was there is still fresh in my memory. The bustle of the city and the unforgiving nature of subway carts have prepared me for any trials and tribulations in my life. The bar scene that stays open till 4 a.m. and the establishments that stay open longer have given me an iron liver that can take on any day of drinking. The heat and humidity in the summer hasn’t prepared me for anything because I’m always gonna be a sweaty bollix, but at least I now have lots of cool baseball hats to show people I was in the States.
In short, New York is a training ground that spits out the weak and gets you tough for the years ahead. In the nicest way possible.

Flatiron building

I won’t lie, it has been a struggle to write anything about New York because I’ve been struggling since I came home. I came home for a course in September and decided to just leave in January as I missed the family and friends a bit. I’ve had a great time so far, working with a plumber for a while and now back at the cinema for a while. However, the course doesn’t seem like it’s going ahead and with each passing week of no contact with the co-ordinator I start to wonder if I want to spend 5 Gs on a course that I’m not sure if I want to do anymore. In all likelihood I probably won’t but sure look, I change my mind about ten times a week on every decision I have yet to make.
While the lack of direction in my life at the moment is worrying, I think the thing that is making me struggle the most is that I miss New York. I’ve struggled to write about it necause if I put my actual feelings about the place onto a page or onto a screen it’ll be real and I’ll realise that I want to go back. Some days I do and some days I don’t. Some days I curse the place and most days I yearn to be back there. It doesn’t help that most movies and t.v. shows have at least one scene set in Manhattan. Goddamn urban scenery and diverse population!

The lads

You’d miss the lads, wouldn’t ya? The people you meet and the memories you make are a part of you forever. I see it in my Dad when he talks about the place. The memories have stuck with him. I only spent a fraction of the time that he did in New York but it has had a profound effect on me. Late nights and early mornings under the influence are one set of memories; the matches we played and the concerts, gigs and stand-up sets we went to are another. Each set of memories is as vibrant as the other, taking up all the space in my mind so that I can do nothing but think about going back.

I could spend a paragraph talking about how the money is fantastic but I think we all know that. I could do the same with the food and the drink. Perhaps I’ll do different posts on those. I could write about all the things we did in New York; the scraps we got into; the outrageous nights out that you are a part of; and the days we all just went for dinner and had the craic while trying to eat. I could spend another while waxing lyrical about the greatest city on Earth but I’ll leave it for another day. All I’ll finish with is that lads, and New York, I miss ye.

The Changing of the Guard / 4 Train

Packed like sardines in an old tin can we push and squeeze and excuse me.
There are no ‘sorry’s here in the no man’s land that is the middle of the cart.
Hands cling to rails and heads are burrowed in books and phones
While homeless people tell sad stories that would break your heart
If you didn’t hear the same story two homeless people ago.
Oftentimes the same story is told with little differences,
Like instead of a sick son it is a girl or wife,
But people don’t care for any of these hindrances
Because we all have places to go and people to see
In this Amazon jungle of a city.

We hurtle along between 59th and 86th at breakneck speeds,
Planting our feet in position to sway with the machine
As the conductor announces a delay at Grand Concourse.
A collective groan rises up, everybody taking part
In this collective self-pity parade of head shakes,
Low mutters and sighs of frustration.
Eventually, finally, behind schedule as usual
the 4 train pulls into another station
That is full to the brim of students, teachers, laborers, preachers
And other professions that won’t fit on the train.

My calves begin to cramp as we wobble towards Burnside Avenue,
Still no sign of a seat or even a space to lean against a door
While veteran riders apply makeup and read books while the place rattles around them.
Train etiquette is still observed as space is made for the elderly, poor
And pregnant passengers as the sea parts for such weary travelers.
The carriage almost empties at Mosholu Parkway,
Leaving me the carriage to myself as we glide into Woodlawn, the last stop on this train.
I swap out with tired people at the opposite end of the working day,
An extremely exhausted changing of the guard as haggard looks are exchanged as
They begin their day and I am almost finished mine.