And speaking of trains, this weekend it’s been all change as far as my life here is concerned. Mutley is finally here! And it’s changed everything – for the better, I hasten to add! I had reached the point where I had had enough of all of it – the job, the weather, the city, the rush, because I was fed up of being here on my own. Everytime something great happened I wanted to tell him, everytime I saw something amazing I wanted to show him.

So on Sunday morning, there I was at JFK, in my new dress and heels, feeling a tad over-dressed compared to all the sneakers and shorts, and after what felt like hours of anticipation, the arrivals doors slid open and out he ambled. And suddenly everything made sense again.

So now we are esconced in this lovely little basement flat in an old brownstone, way up in Harlem. And the Queen of Manhattan is in Queens (!), having rented her whole flat out to someone else temporarily. It occurred to me that if I’d known she was prepared to do that, we could have stayed there – but it’s nice to be somewhere different. This flat is so full of character, (old and slightly shabby!) unlike her modern minimalist pad, but has this amazing back garden – walled and overlooked by trees, with comfortable beaten up chairs and a table with candles. The bedroom is at the back, so you wake up to look down the garden, deafened by the song of hundreds of little birds – instead of the wail of sirens that woke me on the Upper East Side - so it’s a totally new experience. (I just have to stop Steve calling me ‘bitch’ all the time…)

Of course I think the Queen was horrified that we were moving to Harlem - but knew me better than to say so! She may be an immigrant but she is a typical Manhattanite – there is NOWHERE but Manhattan to live, and NOWHERE really suitable except her area. Despite the stresses and strains of the last couple of weeks – her with all the bad luck she’s been having – me with my exhaustion and over-arching irritation with everything – we were still friends, and we had a great night out the night before I left. We went to the French bar with the jazz – now complete with a singer – and then onto what she called the Cigar Bar. When the smokeing ban came in, certain places could apply for a licence to still allow smoking on the premises. This place, not far from us but over near the park, was a richly dark downstairs basement bar. It’s lined with books, and has deep plush seats. The waitresses are dressed in deep red tight cocktail dresses, the clientelle is old and rich. It’s about as old money as you can get. But there was a real nostalgia to stepping down into the fug of smoke, especially the scented smoke of cigars.

We sat and watched the life around the bar and I had a $15 whisky – Laphroig I think. It was beautiful, as it always is, but seemed particularly appropriate to be drinking there. But there was an additional shock when we came to settle up – a $5 ‘cigar charge’! So we know who pays for the licence! Add the tip, and the tax, and one drink ended up costing $26 – or around £20. But I enjoyed seeing the place.

And the final change – today was my last day at work. After even just five weeks I have got into my little routine, got used to my desk, and wanted more time to have got to know my colleagues. But then I remembered how I felt when I still had weeks to go… and now we have 8 days of unsullied holiday to enjoy!

 

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