...and head first into fiery New York, for a too-short week of fast-paced fun. A well-placed flirt with the man at the bag drop got me checked in and through security an hour before I was meant to, meaning an entire extra hour to spend with H1, who was meeting me on the other side of T5. Convinced my bag was going to end up on a flight to Alaska, I scammed my way through anyway - the previous week without H1 had flown but another hour without him seemed absolutely outrageous.
Finding him lurking outside duty-free, I broke the news that our flight was delayed, not caring a jot myself. We shrugged it off, glowing in each other's presence, smiling contentedly round at the rushing crowds, and went for a little wander round the shops, spraying perfumes, flicking through magazines, and laughing at Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food. Then boredom set in, and we sat down to watch Van Wilder on the laptop. Then hunger set in, and we went for dinner. Then we realised our flight was five hours late and that we had to call the shuttle in New York and let them know of the delay, and this we did (no proooooblem, Sir, the shuttle will be here when you get in). Then more boredom came along, our sentences got shorter and shorter, and it was with huge relief that the plane finally, finally boarded and took off.
Landing in New York, tired and puffy faced at about 2am EST, we got into one of those yellow taxis you may have seen before (shuttle lady lied!) and headed for Skyline Hotel, Hells Kitchen, to find we had been upgraded to a suite, albeit one with no rubbish bin. Somehow this marked the mood for the rest of the trip - really, extremely good things kept happening, but with marked oddities.
I cannot say enough good things about New York. I went there for three days three years ago, after working at a summer camp, and found it tricky. This time it was so so easy for such basic reasons:
- More money in New York is better than less money. I had more money.
- More time in New York is better than less time. I had more time.
- Less people in New York is better than more people. I had only H1 and it was perfect.
Of course, when I say I only had H1, I mean I only had H1, the girls who befriended me in Billabong, my mum's friend who came to see us for the day, H1's friend who went for lunch with us, the wonderful couple from Ohio we met at a bar, and every waiter, server, and barman we stumbled across. The friendliness levels were the highest I've ever seen, so strong it took less than a morning to strip the London sarcasm from me and have me asking after strangers and telling them to have a nice day. The only unpleasant people we came across were the cab drivers (and that was fine and expected, welcome even, for what is New York without crazy cab drivers?) and an American lady outside Grand Central who loudly denounced the tourists getting in her way. Even she couldn't touch this mood - she was merely comic, and not at all convincing. (Yeah lady, you try to be mean. London would eat you alive.)
We ate great food (I was surprised), saw incredible sights (I wasn't surprised) and did some spectacular shopping (um, not even mildly shocked by that one. There's a reason more money is better than less). We went to a crappy comedy show near Broadway and laughed and laughed. We wandered through Times Square, Union Square, and Bryant Park, and saw the New York Public Library where the Sex and the City wedding nearly took place. H1 (who, by the way, maintains he has a firm dislike of SatC and all it stands for) got so excited when he saw the street where Carrie beats up Big with her flowers he almost choked.
We drank good coffee, we drank terrible coffee, we drank caaw-feeee. We ate bagels but avoided the giant pretzels from the street carts. We got rained on and we got burnt, then we got on a plane and it was all over.
Flying into London, my usual relief at being home was not there at all, not even a little bit. The sky was grey and the landing was rough, and it was cold outside, need-a-merino-jumper cold. We went out to the drycleaners and the supermarket and nobody told us to have a nice day. The builders had been in and there was dust everywhere.
My holiday romance is over, and my long term relationship with London seems sour in comparison.