Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 224, 5, 6 and 7: the vortex of time.

What does that even mean? I'm not sure it means a lot. But then again it does. First, at least, it's my way of saying that over the last four (?!) days I haven't known what or who or where I am. Firstly I flew for two solid Wednesdays in a row. (Somewhere in between Wednesday and Wednesday I appreciated for the first time in my life that hell might not be all flaming coals and bottom burns, but rather a scuzzy beige airport departures lounge, where the planes never leave, the only food is bad Mexican, and jet-lag shudders are your best entertainment.) Then I arrived at a hotel so cool I was almost too intimidated to walk through the yellow front revolving door (actually the main thing stopping me going in was two hipsters taking crazy photos through the yellow glass. They were finding it very funny. You get that, apparently.) And then I was sucked into a world where sitting down to dinner at 11pm is normal, where my body clock is all over the shop, my orientation is seriously fucked, and I am truly an alien. New York is an amazing and majestic animal. It is at once unbelievably inspiring and terrifying. There seems to be a sense at all times that it could either lift you to incredible and dizzying heights, or swallow you whole and spit you out half mangled somewhere in Jersey. There is something about this city that asks you what you're made of. So what am I made of? Apart from one seriously delicious Shake Shack Shroom Burger and a frozen custard chocolate shake (it has been necessary for survival and enjoyment to relax my militant veganism to include the occasional bout of vegetarianism. Cheesy dishes abound in this fair land, and frozen custard shakes are something no human should ever be made to sacrifice.) I am an uncomfortable mix of tough guts and jelly belly, stand out and don't belong, confident accomplishment and debilitating fear. I am a fish out of water, pulled from my usual environment, gasping in my new air. And I'm not sure if the new air is good for me, only that it is seriously assaulting my senses. As I said, I don't know what I am here. But then again what is anyone without their people and their context? What do we mean simply as individuals? Last time I was here, my cousin Charlotte lived here, which gave me a grounding touch-point; a sense of who I am and where I come from. This trip, all of that me-ness is only contained in my head, body and what I project. And I haven't formed a proper opinion of what me means when surrounded by the intense this-ness of this place. At this point my clothes are probably the closest thing to any point of reference; I suppose I don't feel meaningful in this town yet. But what does it take to be meaningful here (anywhere in fact)? Well let's talk about ambition for a minute. Because if anything is alive in the air here, it's a desire to be someone, do something, get somewhere. This town with its enormous possibilities, invites you to rise to the occasion; to become one of those who can access every exhilarating morsel of above averageness and sensational experience that is on offer here. But that invitation is confronting. To be able to survive and thrive here, I get the feeling you need balls of steel, the ability to hustle like a pro, and yet a relaxed and happy confidence in your own uniqueness - in your own way. For a soft little kiwi lass from Sydney, all of this is quite a lot to take in one potent gulp. And it's quite a big ask. But as with not drinking for a year, and giving up animals as fodder, and continuing to try to (ahem) be a rock star, I am not this year, in the habit of shying away from the big ask. I am more about looking it straight in the muthafrickin face (you lookin at me? Are you lookin at me?). So New York City, you desirable, scary, gorgeous and intoxicating woman, let's tango lady.

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