Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Two for the Price of One

This is an odd sort of two-part blog today. The first section was written this morning while sitting in the airport, trying to record the thoughts and feelings going through my head at the time. Part two was written later at about quarter to 1 in the New York morning, looking back at the day's events and describing my first experience with New York as a young adult.

So, written at the airport:
The San Francisco airport is really well designed.
Smooth and sleek, it manages to seem very open and airy even with low ceilings.
Not a bad airport to be delayed in, I might add.
Right now I'm sitting at the gate, waiting to board our plane. Because of the thunderstorms in New York right now, our flight has been delayed until 11:30 AM as opposed to our original 10:49 departure time. There's this very intriguing design on the wall I'm staring at; that plus the view out the window to watch the organized frenzy of the airplanes makes for a interesting waiting period.

Just got the news that when Ms. Kronenberg joins us in July we'll be taking a sunset boat cruise around the city; sounds gorgeous! Sunsets from home are always spectacular, but I'm sure the setting sun will light up the skyscrapers like wildfire and turn the waters into flaming colors of orange and red and, who knows, perhaps even green! Parrot sunset, I believe that's called.

This whole thing is seeming so unreal, now. A few days ago, starting to pack and selecting an entirely new wardrobe to wear in the hot 'n' humid New York summer, everything seemed very concrete and tangible, as if the act of placing things in my suitcase and discarding others was some sort of ritual before leaving home for almost a month. But its strange: now that I'm sitting at the gate, typing away, pausing occasionally as Mrs. L offers some more advice or explains some of the rules she has set for us, Columbia seems farther away than ever. Its like I'm stuck in some sort of limbo. I can't go home, but I can't move farther ahead.

Thunderstorms in New York. I'm excited for that. I adore thunderstorms. Lighting is just so... incredible. I remember a few months ago we had one in California; I had my nose pressed against the window panes, searching for the next flash and bracing myself for the next thunderous boom reverberating through me, while my brother subtly and then not-so-subtly encouraged everyone to move far, far away from the nearest windows. So it’s quite a welcome from the city, in a way: one of my favorite things greeting me as I enter a new state, thunderstorms!

I know I'm going to miss home. Rather a lot, in fact. I already miss my dog, silly as that sounds. And sleeping in a new bed, for so long! I hope it’s a comfortable one. I also hope I have a brilliant roommate. Not brilliant as in genius, but brilliant as in great. Just someone I can get to know and hopefully be friends with. Its going to a lonely trip if I don't find someone to get close to; not that the rest of my cohort aren't great (in fact, they've all been really friendly and, as Will put it this morning, I think we're all looking forward to actually getting to know each other), but I already desperately miss my friends from California, and finding someone I can be good friends with will help make that easier, I think.

I keep thinking about my father's advice: “Engage!” As in don't sit in the back, don't be silent the whole time, speak out, discuss. I'm hoping the small class size at Columbia will let me do just that.

Our boarding should be starting very soon... time to put my laptop away!

And then later, from the hotel room:
My it has been a long day.

It seems so incredibly long ago that I groggily waited at El Cerrito High for the shuttle to appear and whisk me off to the airport, but it hasn't even been a day!

Getting off the airplane and being in New York, the first thing that told me I was somewhere different was the air. Wet and sticky, it had a sort of taste to it as you breathed through your mouth, that sort of dank and musky odor I associate with a cool(er) day in Florida.

The drive from JFK to Manhattan was very similar to what I remembered from arriving in the city as a kid: long, and not so very different-looking from here, at least in the dark. Our shuttle driver was relatively tame for a New Yorker, Mrs. L informed us; he only almost ran two people over on the drive instead of eight. I'm definitely going to have to remember that here in New York, the cars and not the pedestrians have the right of way.

But then all of a sudden, you see it, the city proper, and at night everything is just so glittery and perfect. The elevated tracks can occasionally confuse the unwary; looking up after a few moments of inattention can make one think one has arrived suddenly in Chicago. Driving across the bridge, you can almost feel the inky black of the East River below as you cross to the island. And then there are the people! At a time when, at home, the streets would be thinning out and only the occasional walker would grace the sidewalks, in New York the cabs whizzed their bright yellow across staring eyes while people of all sorts streamed along during the hot, bright night. Even sitting here at almost 1 AM there is the constant dull roar of the city trying to push its way through the hotel's thickly paned windows.

After we arrived at the Empire Hotel, we piled our baggage onto (miraculously) only one trolley cart, and after being assigned our rooms (I have one to myself, a luxury I am glad for!) went out to dinner. Less than two blocks away, Para Comer was delicious and had food that was not only yummy but also incredibly well put together, appearance-wise. Perhaps the thing that intrigued our group the most was an art installation that ran along the staircase from the lower floor to the upper, where we ate. Delectable food and interesting scenery make for a great meal!

I would definitely write much more about today but I really do need to get some sleep, as we start very early tomorrow morning for our trip to UPenn.

1 comment:

  1. Irene,

    For an uneventful day from the way you described it it still sounded exciting and interesting.

    I can understand the allure of your own room but sharing a room allows you an opportunity to develop social bonds that can be both useful and enjoyable. That's one of the reasons they room you up when you get to Columbia with someone you don't already know.