Friday, October 7

No no no, this simply will not do.


I've been reading over this, and I realize I didn't do my NYC trip justice. I wrote a 10,000 page essay on a sleepy trip to the middle of nowhere Minnesota, but, for a two week adventure to the city that never sleeps...I wrote nothing.

Bullshit I say.

I journaled my travels..I may as well share them.

Day One:

I make my final arrangements to leave this sleepy little burg of Fargo North Dakota at 1:am. My bags have been packed for two days, I double check my list for the thrid time. And I wait by the computer, hoping to catch someone online. I look at my notepad. She called before, her numbers on my caller ID...Should I? She's probibly sleeping...most likely had an adventure of her own and called it a night. And I KNOW, she's got a grand adventure of her own coming up, and could use all the rest she can get.

Buggar it, I think, I want to call, to hear her voice one last time before I leave.

1:10. I wish her a safe trip. I's going to be one hell of an adventure.

I walk the mile to the Fargo Am-Trak station, it takes me about 15 minutes. Upon arrival I iscover my train is delayed by an hour and a half. I check my bag, an oversized sports bag that contains enough clothes for 2 weeks of adventures and my trusty cricket bat. My traveling bag, a canvas shoulder case chocked full of art supplies, film, and books will be comeing with me on the train. I sit in an uncomfortable terminal seat. Shrug off exhuation with excitement, and prepair for a nap.

My nap never comes, I'm too buzzed.

By 2 AM I decide to get some air, walking in the still Fargo night I make my way to a corner gas station a few blocks away. Newpaper men are deliving the dailys. I buy orange juice and milk duds. I make the walk back with the tangy bite of OJ on my lips, and light up a cigarette. My adventure hasn't even started yet and I feel like a 10 year old...excited, full of vigor, ready to see the world anew.

The train arrives at 4:00..I board and take my seat. It remeinds me much of my youth, traveling the country by charter bus...seeing town after town sprawling by...but it's refreshingly different. The sway to the train is gentle...rocking back and forth like the waves on an ocean liner. Towns that I've passed by a hundred times seem new, exciting. Seeing them from this new angle...elevated, on the top car of a double decker train wonderfully humbling.

I cant sleep...I toss and turn and I cant sleep. And it dawns on me, this...this...strange sense of enlightenment. Every moment in my life, every little piece of the puzzle.

It's leading me to New York city. I can think back to when I was 8 years old, and realize that events in my child hood have paved the way to this grand adventure, that relationships, hope, dreams, insignificant conversations all begin to take on a certain clarity to me.

For once, I feel as if I'm able to see the grand clockwork mechanisms of my life assembled in a stunning and pristine precision.

I think of her, and I smile...this woman who gave me an adventure bigger then anything I've EVER had. Someone who was forcing me to experiance wonder beond anything I had ever experianced. And all I could think of is that I wanted her here to share it.

Daybreak came at 6 AM. I was quickly pushing 24 hours. I stare out at the landscape, centeral minnesota wakes to the sunrise in deep royal blues and vivid creamy oranges. There's a mist that hangs in the air, covering this land of midnight blue pine trees and terrifingly tranquil lakes with a lilac blanket.

Magnificent. Heavenly.

St. Cloud Minnesota wisks away during breakfast. I share a half an hour with sisters Julie and Barb. Two sisters with a passion for trains, who hae seen the world from coach cars. Europe, Aisia...they tell adventures that sound like the backstories of characters in a spy novel. Our porter, Deanne, gives us his shares of stories. His life has been lived on trains, with more adventures then any man should be allowed to have.

And I realize, that my life has become terribly empty, because I've not had a good adventure for far, far to long. My life of duity and responsibility has kept me from what I loved. Traveling, seeing the world...finding these places of wonder.

I head to my seat with a full stomach and a head reeling with the sense of wonder that the world has to offer. I'm tired, very tired, and take a short little hour nap, I wake in Minneapolis, wisking away to the St. Paul station.

I have a smoke, look at the town, and in minutes I'm back on the train, heading for places uncharted.

We travel through Winnona Minnesota, a town that I haven't had the privelage of visiting before, and there, through my window, I spy a rock monolith that screams out in defiance to the red cliffs that slumber with their blankets of emerald green pine trees below it. Some day, I think I should like to see the world from that perch, and gaze down upon this magnificant land.

The roads here are red, dirty, brick red, which is a marverlous change from the dusty brownish grey that I am use to.

We cross the Missippi, and find ourselves barreling towards Wisconsin.

The next thing I know, I'm in the Dells. I haven't seen the dells in over 5 years, the yellow rocks sculpted into alien forms by the most gentle river you can ever see. I feel at home in this familiarity, yellow roads wisk by, Oak and poplar trees line our path.

In Milwakee, there's another smoke break, and I depart to view the city that I lived in ever so breifly in my last big summer of adventure. It's dirty, industrial, and ever so humble in it's working class ethic. I think of Roman Belenski, the man who gave me a home and a place to spend my last wonderfull year of my youth. God bless that man.

4:00, I hit Chicago. My train is 2 hours late, and my expected stop over of 4 hours has dwindled to an hour and a half. I follow the river, making certain that I know my way back to the station. My meanderings bring me to the "Around the Corner" bar and grill, I sit down, and ask for a sapphire martini, only to be informed by the blonde waitress that they're out of Bombay. I ask for belvadere and find my luck likewise ill. So I order a quickly becomes three, and I quickly find myself ordering a sausage, pepper, and egg sandwitch. What comes to my table is the most insane combination of fat, vegetables, and chees that I have ever consumed. My heart starts waiving a white flag of surrender.

We leave Chicago just as the sun begins it's fatal arc into nightfall. Illonois is simply North Dakota with trees and tall buildings. I'm still in the midwest as I fall into my slumber.

Day Two:

I remember waking in Ohio, hours before the world would, and fondly remembering a previous adventure among the cornfields outside of Toledo.

I was 18, and touring with a drum corps. Ironically that adventure was also marked with someone special in my life. Her name was Christine, she'ld be the first woman I ever truely loved. The first person who...made me complete.

Relationships are funny things. Most of my life has been defined by them. And through my travels, through my adventures, I've discovered that the good ones, the truely great ones that burn with a firey passion in my mind, are the ones in which SHE brings something to the table that I do not posess.

It could just come from my buddhist understanding of the universe. That life is not a one sided ordeal. Rather it's a dicotomy.

I am a quiet individual, no, that's not entirely true.

I'm a wolf. That's the best summation of my character. I can be a loner, and survive quite well, but I enjoy running with a small, tighnit pack. When I'm in unfamiliar teritory, I tend to be more submissive. I'll circle, smell the air, try to get a feel for people, and then, once I do, I open up, and run with them...and...eventually, take my place as the leader of the pack.

MY dicotomy is someone who's the opposite of the lone wolf. Someone who is firey and passionate and outgoing. However, my bane is that I'm NOT outgoing at first. I tend to sniff the air, understand the pack, and gradually work my way in.

Christine was the first person I ever met who balanced out my equation. She was incredably firey, quick to act, very independant. I tended to balance her out, to give her a chance to slow down.

And ten years later, I can still look back at that summer and smile.

But that is a story for another time.

I slept intermittetly throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania. Towns flew by as I entered New York State, Albany, Rochester, Buffalo...and then, we found the Hudson river, and I fell in love.

The Hudson cuts a great grean swath through the Catskills. And the Catskills are absolutly breathtaking. Lumbering green giants that slumber nestled amid a winding ribbon of emerald river. Huge iron bridges that span the horizon criss cross as you venture past. Forest, so rich and lush with vegetation that you cant see anything but green.

I watched in awe as we sped past, rocketing towards New York City. Realizing for the first time in a VERY long time, that I was about to see something that I had never witnessed before.

New York greete me with grafitti as I entered into Penn Station. The arrival is dirty, with disgarded refridgerators and half burned tires littering the landscape of factories.

But Penn Station is a wonder upon itself, a self contained community of resturants, shops, and people, running to and fro from one end of the country to another. A thousand languages buzzed past my ears, a million voices stumbled into my mind, seeping every pore with a grand sense of activity.

I called my friends, who would be providing me with housing for the greater duration of my trip, and got directions to get picked up...and calmly I made my way into the greater world of New York City.

To be continued...

New York greeted me with Madison Square garden. Loud, noisy, frantic. I made my way around the building, trying to get my orientation.

North...I need to head NORTH, and then EAST. Bloody fucking easier to do with trees and fucking moss.

I asked someone on a street corner the way to Avenue of the Americas, and discover that New York people feel remarkably like Midwestern people when asking for directions.

New York is a city that feels like it was built for me. The pace feels right. People walk briskly, making their way through crowded streets, and for some reason, the pace feels right. Canyons of buildings make the city streets raging torrents of excitement.

And I feel oddly at home in all of this. The adventure, the excitement. It feels RIGHT to me.

I make my way up 7th past Macey's till I reach 47th and make my way over to the Avenue of The Americas.

When I arive my friend gives me two choices, I can spend the evening in the big apple, hit a resturant, and do some tourist stuff...or I can simply go home and shower.

Since I had been wearing the same underware for over 3 days now, the decision was fairly easy to make.

We take the subway to the financial district, and I chuckle at the Our Lady of The Holy Rosary chapel, defiantly giving the finger to the monsterous towers that flank it.

We take the Statin Island Ferry to his house, I look out to the specticled jewel that is New York City, gleaming in blue in the darkening sky. The statue of liberty winks at me seductivly as I pass her.

It's going to be a good week.

My first full day in the city includes my discovery that New York get's public transit right. We hop an express bus into the city, take a subway to midtown, and I'm left to fend for myself in the city that never sleeps.

First up, St. Pat's Cathedral. I was raised Catholic, and I've always had a special fondness for old cathederals and holy spaces. St. Pats rises to reach the heavens with glorious archetecture. Across the street I spy Atlas, cast in art deco, holding aloft the world...and it strikes me as the ultimate irony, pagan and catholic staring each other down. Only in New York could I see the clean stylized lines of art deco cast in the image of the greek heros, face to face with the growing spirals of gothic archetecture.

I make my way south and stop in the Barnes and Noble in Rocafella Center. I pick up a NY city map, complete with landmarks, and begin navigating my way to Bryant Park and the Empire state. I pass by the New York Public Library, and debate running down the front steps just like Dr. Veinkman in the opening scene of Ghostbusters.

A clearer head prevails and I move my way towards the state building.

The wait at the state building is nowhere near as bad as I anticipate. I make my way up through to the elevators and enjoy the most breathaking view of the world that america has to offer.


At 1:33 AM, Blogger W said...

Song to go with this long entry...

Phantom 2002...seriously...


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