From the first draft of chewy, spicy air, the first bars of salsa blasting from a cab, I'm back, full of adrenalin, curiosity, wonder. I spent part of a summer in the broke-but-blissful '60s sharing a 5th-floor walkup with a waif in fashion school and in the '80s, regularly visited a girlfriend who had a huge apartment in a hotel, with free room service. (The digs were a perk of her job.)
When I plan a trip, my inner 25 year-old starts dictating what to do, as if I'm about to enter the Tardis and catch the Dolls' last set. But returning to the city that witnessed my glory days isn't going to bring them back; eventually, I rejig the itinerary to suit my 64-year-old stamina.
My only disappointment is that the US Navy's annual Fleet Week, when the city sparkles with sailors in whites, has been cancelled this year due to the government's budget cuts. (I swear I didn't know about the timing when we booked, but it is an especially ah, scenic week to be there. I once delayed my return home three times just to enjoy the view!)
|Photo: New York Daily News 2006|
My favourite NYC memory actually happened en route, in July, 1986. On my birthday, I flew in to see Hotel Girlfriend for a long weekend, a gift from Le Duc, my husband of several months.
When the flight attendant asked if I'd like something to drink, I said, "It's my birthday, I'd like a glass of champagne!"
She said, "I'll see what I can do" and returned with a bottle of Pol Roger, which she parked at my (economy class) seat.
"I'll never drink all this!", I protested in an insincere, demure tone. The young man beside me, busy canoodling with his girlfriend, shot me a look, as if to say Whoa, 16A, you party animal! There may have been something else in his eyes, an air of puzzled inquiry, but I was heedless in the moment.
"I hope you'll have some, too", I said, and requested two more glasses.
Just then, the captain's Voice of God came over the PA. "Good evening, nice night in New York, 81 degrees and clear; local time is 7:50. One thing before we begin our approach, folks. I have a request for Michelle in 16B from Joel in 16C", he intoned, "Will you marry me?"
|Photo by Andrew C. Mace|
An hour later, I sat on Hotel Girlfriend's terrace with another glass of champagne in my hand and said, "See this? This is the last birth control pill I'm ever taking." But that's another story.
And as I leave, with a light bag and lighter heart, I'm humming the best city-nostalgia song ever, from the days when he, too, was young: