Posts tagged with "travel"

Trapped in NYC

A few weeks ago, an anony­mous per­son very thought­ful­ly sent me a track called NYC by Brolin. This per­son must know me quite well, cause the song is to my taste exact­ly. Not only that, but I’d been mean­ing to make a short film about my trip to New York (as well as the extend­ed stay due to Hurricane Sandy), and Brolin’s min­i­mal­is­tic sound space and ghost­ly vocals gave me an atmos­phere of warmth and won­der that matched my footage per­fect­ly.

Personally, I don’t think I could ever cre­ate any­thing and name it NYC. It’s a city with too much depth and com­plex­i­ty to try encap­su­lat­ing in a verse or song or mov­ing image, then tie it up with three sim­ple let­ters. I can’t wait to go back again some day to cap­ture as much as I can.

Escape from New York, part 2

Check out my short film about being Trapped in NYC.

I walk towards Penn Station, after being uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly dumped along with sev­er­al oth­er con­fused pas­sen­gers at Grand Central by shut­tle. While it’s hard to get a sense of how long it’ll take, the grid gives me the courage to con­tin­ue on foot instead of wait­ing for a trans­fer­ring shut­tle.

I car­ry screen­shots of a map on my phone, which I soon dis­cov­er is a poor sub­sti­tute for an actu­al map when nav­i­gat­ing New York. The roads occa­sion­al­ly run in strange direc­tions or skip num­bers, and it’s enough to throw off my ori­en­ta­tion.

Still, the city feels small­er than I thought. So many sto­ries hap­pen here, told in movies and nov­els and songs, that I’ve always expect­ed it to be a size rel­a­tive to the dreams peo­ple have. This is what F. Scott Fitzgerald must have felt when he climbed the Empire State Building1, saw the lim­its of the city for the first time from with­in, and was left “with the awful real­iza­tion that New York was a city after all and not a uni­verse”.

New York apartment

I passed through here many years ago when I was too young to be scared of what could go wrong, and too much in love to care any­way. That jour­ney — on my way to Jersey by bus — was far longer than this one through Toronto by plane. I sur­vived then, that’s how I know I’ll sur­vive this, no mat­ter what hap­pens.

Continue read­ing “Escape from New York, part 2”…

  1. The tallest man-made struc­ture in the world at the time, a record it would hold for 23 years. []

Escape from New York

Three days and two nights. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Meet Mike at the cor­ner of 31st Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan after the busi­ness part of his trip was fin­ished. Get out of the coun­try, con­nect with a good friend, return with some nice mem­o­ries. That was the plan, but I nev­er caught my plane home.

A day before Hurricane Sandy land­ed, all flights at LaGuardia were can­celled, a theme that would con­tin­ue two more times until the air­line resched­uled my return for Saturday, almost a week longer than I had orig­i­nal­ly planned to stay (and that’s if it’s not can­celled again). Mike made it home to London, Liz and I weren’t so lucky.

They were expect­ing 6–9 feet of water, and we got 14. The pres­i­dent has declared a state of emer­gency. All mass tran­sit is shut down. The rail­road tun­nels are flood­ed. All air­ports are closed. School is out for the whole week. The New York Stock Exchange has been closed for two days straight, some­thing that has­n’t hap­pened since 1888. More than 2.5 mil­lion are with­out pow­er. The death toll is over 100 and count­ing.

Luckily, I have a place to stay. Aside from a brief loss of pow­er, a longer loss of inter­net access, and a few leaks from the ceil­ing, we’re sit­ting pret­ty with run­ning water, heat, and a flush­able toi­let. It’s a lux­u­ry com­pared to what oth­ers are going through at the shel­ters, and I con­sid­er myself for­tu­nate com­pared to those in New Jersey who’ve lost their homes, their pets, their pos­ses­sions, and their lives.

The strange part is that I’ve nev­er met the cou­ple who own this Brooklyn apart­ment. Liz and Mike found them through Roomorama, and they left before the storm hit, leav­ing Liz with the main bed­room and Mike with the guest room. They’ve been gen­er­ous enough to let me stay dur­ing this exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stance, although the fact that they rent­ed out the guest room to some­one else two days ago means I’ve been rel­e­gat­ed to a nook and mat­tress on the floor. At least it’s cozy, and there’s a spare mat­tress.

Still, I was­n’t pre­pared for this. I’m run­ning out of mon­ey, med­ica­tion, and morale. The only things I brought were a change of clothes, a cam­era, and an iPad. The worst part is the wait. Not hav­ing a com­put­er to be pro­duc­tive, and now a week of can­celled plans. Not hav­ing my cats1 or my gui­tar. Not know­ing when I’ll get out of here. Just wait­ing in a city I hard­ly know, with no way to get around. I can’t be proac­tive; all I can do is be patient.

To keep abreast of the ever-chang­ing sit­u­a­tion, I’ve been watch­ing 24 hour news cov­er­age, hang­ing on the words of Mayor Bloomberg at his live press con­fer­ences for any sign that I may make it out of here.

I came to New York, expect­ing to return home recharged, refreshed, and ready to take on the world. The world decid­ed I was­n’t ready yet.

  1. I left them six days of food, but they go through that in three days when I’m away. A major cri­sis was avert­ed when Aaron found a spare key to my house, and was able to take care of them. The only oth­er per­son with a spare key was Pat, and he just hap­pened to be leav­ing for Cancun on the morn­ing I found out my trip was can­celled. []

let's leave these rusted old folks back in the city

It’s been too long since we took a ride togeth­er. Too long since some­one else was at the wheel and I got to score the pass­ing Canadian fields with my new favourite songs. Too long since I saw the old crew and filmed them land­ing aeri­als on the farm.

two dogs in a car

We dri­ve through love­ly lit­tle vil­lages I’d nev­er want to live in but always think of vis­it­ing some day. They’re too small for com­ic book stores and decent Chinese food and any pos­si­bil­i­ty of get­ting lost, but big enough to hold the hopes of any­one who ever want­ed to build a life for them­selves in a qui­et com­mu­ni­ty full of old-world charm and decay. The tiny econ­o­my based on tourism from an annu­al coun­try music fes­ti­val or his­toric school will make sure it stays like this for­ev­er.

Continue read­ing “let’s leave these rust­ed old folks back in the city”…

we put our feet just where they had to go

Our final days grow ever dark­er, but win­ter feels far away when I turn on the A/C in the car as we set off on the scenic route. It’s strange to think I’ll nev­er be here again. I do my best to take my time, to remem­ber the smell of every wood­en house and twirl of hair and cozy wind. This was nev­er a way for me to escape my life back home, only a jour­ney I knew I need­ed to take.

But the nov­el­ty of grey hair and almond eyes has long run out, and now I’m just a man, try­ing to find out where he belongs.


A mask that smiles.

Continue read­ing “we put our feet just where they had to go”…