July 25th, 2013
The view from the J-train of Manhattan on the Williamsburg bridge is wonderful. Wind is blowing through my hair and for the first time in the five weeks I’ve been here, it is actually cool air. I look down and see the tracks whizzing by just below my feet. I’m careful to hold on tightly to the train car so I don’t become one of the statistics the warning sings in the subways talk about.
I know this is more dangerous and illegal but it is so worth the beauty. It’s like the difference between seeing a picture and being there for real. Besides, this is my last train ride over the bridge. I can’t even count how many times I’ve crossed it, either by foot or by subway to get into the city. I must have walked over 100 miles in my time here, exploring neighborhoods, taking pictures, eating 1$ pizzas, catching up with friends and meeting all kinds of people.
I’m on my way to my cousin’s auto shop here in New York. I wish I would’ve known I had a cousin with a shop to keep the bike safe in before I left to Europe but then again, I wouldn’t have grown a love for this place as I have. I wouldn’t have learned some important lessons. Whatever happened was supposed to have happened. I have to think this way or else I’ll waste valuable energy on something useless like regret.
My motorcycle has been resting safely there for the last week, out of sight from its kidnappers. Yesterday was my final visit to make the finishing repairs; new rotor, latches for my luggage and a cigarette lighter power adapter. I’m on my way to pick it up and drive out of here.
I cherish every view from the subway along the way. When it goes underground I get back in the train car and enjoy my last few stops of observing all the interesting people here. This city must be the most diverse place I’ve ever been to. I’ve seen styles I didn’t know existed, every color, every fabric, every hair-do, every facial expression on every ethnicity and culture. One subway ride can be like traveling the whole world in 15 minutes, not enough time to learn anything about the place but just enough time to learn it exists and plant a seed of wonder. Seeds that never get watered, just quickly planted without care.
I get to the last stop and walk the 10 or 15 blocks to his shop. Yet another little world I walk through; a jewish neighborhood where the Hasidic jews wear their traditional garb. I don’t know much about their lifestyle or culture but would love to learn. A man wearing a very peculiar cylindrical hat made of fur invited me in his house for a diet coke a few days earlier. I was in a hurry and don’t like diet coke but I would’ve loved to take a step into his world for a minute.
I get to the shop and present my cousin with a bottle of whiskey as a thank-you for letting me keep the bike there and helping me with many of the repairs. I thank him again and take off to get back to the apartment to load. Everyone is there hanging out, about to go out for lunch and I wish I could stay but I have to leave. My time is limited by a wedding in California so I need to get going.
I say my good byes after packing and get the hell out of that god forsaken neighborhood. Finally. I feel invincible driving away on my bike, no more paranoia. Within an hour it begins to rain and I’m reminded I’m on an adventure again. No more apartment with showers, subways, 1$ pizzas, friends. I’m getting good at readjusting by now so it is not too big of a deal. All I’m concerned with now is how far west I can get today…