The neighbourhoods

It’s difficult to condense the many experiences I’ve had over the past few days so I’ll tell my stories out of order, as they arise in my memories.

I had the pleasure of being invited to a Halloween party  by an old Montreal acquaintance, Emma. She welcomed me in her beautifully hip Brooklyn loft. The building lobby stays true to its industrial charm and the wall is lined with vintage typewriters. While visiting Emma, I met several of her artsy neighbours as they all seem to know each other and live somewhat communally. It was a beautiful thing to see, especially in a city that is hardly known for its warmth.

I had decided to dress up as fictional character Claire Underwood, from House of Cards. When we reached the burlesque bar where the party was, a few people recognized my costume (which made me very happy) but those who did not know the show assumed I was going as Hillary Clinton. We saw a few amusing burlesque performances, but the most unusual thing that happened was that I spotted the actress from the show I had seen a few days prior, Futurity. The lead actress was right there in the same tiny bar as us. Given the size of this city, I was amazed at the coincidence. I wanted to personally congratulate her on the show, but she left before I had the chance.

Emma, her friend Amy and I then migrated to a small gay bar, which was also a lively scene. An older gentleman, who was not in costume, was trying to woo my friend as was being very insistent about it. She later told me he was a mafia boss and had boasted about the ridiculous amounts of money he has. She said it happens all the time in this neighbourhood.

I spent the next few days exploring and walking around. I’ve been taking advantage of the beautiful weather and the free time at my disposal to go for a few runs. Running along the waterfront in Manhattan is a real joy. Even for someone who is not crazy about running in the first place! It’s also a wonderful way to discover the city. Sometimes, I just wander around after my run. One thing I’m enjoying about New York is that no one seems to care if you’re walking around in a tattered jogging outfit. No one seems to care what anyone else is wearing at all. I’ve also noticed that unlike in many other parts of the world, social classes seem to be all jumbled together. There don’t seem to be parts of Manhattan with only rich people and other parts with only poor people. Everyone is everywhere. One block can be incredibly luxurious and the next is profoundly seedy. It’s sort of wonderful.

I’ve had the pleasure of staying with friends who have fabulous apartments. My good friend Alex lives in a modern high rise with dizzying 15th floor views. Because she works literally all the time (as New Yorkers are wont to do), I got to spend time with her adorable kittens who almost made me forget I was allergic to them.

A couple of days ago, I moved to my friend Dustin’s place, in a part of town which exudes class and luxury. He lives across the street from a beautiful little park and is minutes away from streets that you don’t want to land on when you’re playing Monopoly. I feel very fortunate to be in this area and enjoy its charms. It’s also walking distance from Greenwich Village and other fun areas to get lost in.

Last night, I was visiting the said Village and had the very great pleasure of listening to some musicians playing in Washington Square Park. There was a young white man (possibly a student) playing the guitar and singing some old funk classics with aging black men, who had no doubt seen this music come alive in their day. It was an informal circle which grew as other musicians decided to stop and play and sing. One young man even sang along for a line as he passed them. I listened to them for an hour, mesmerized by the energy of the group. And I like the story it told. From the looks of it, the older men who were participating were not privileged, their clothes were old and worn, their rattling voices indicated a hard life, but this only seemed to increase the joy with which they sang out. And seeing them singing with energetic young college students was a beautiful scene in my eyes.