Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Bold Bonus Life: 18

Friday was the final day of my 18-day extra life as a New Yorker. As Audrey Hepburn at 28.

This two-weeks-and-four-days experience was a tremendous success for me. I loved it. I do feel satisfied now that I've had a Manhattan life. Just as I feel satisfied that I had a life in India, in the three months I spent there researching my novel Sister India.

These were not mere trips. They felt entirely different. They included laundry, and ups and downs, and seasonal change, and neighbors. And enough time to dabble, and get lost, and have second chances.

I feel so lucky and grateful to have gotten to do this. And I'd had my mind set on it for almost two years, so I'd really built up an appetite.

My last day was, as usual, a long long walk. Some of it in circles. I decided to "do" a large chunk of the East Side, especially the area sometimes known as Spanish Harlem. I began by setting out to walk from the West Side apartment across Central Park. I decided I knew the place well enough by now that I could take a path instead of following the road.

After 30 or 40 minutes of walking, I saw traffic and buildings ahead. Success! I walked a few blocks into what I took to be the East Side. Then came upon Broadway. But that's on the West Side!! I'd made a great loop through the park and come back close to where I'd started.

So I headed back into the park and this time came out on the other side. Took a subway north to begin my walk back.

Then I got off the train too soon and saw only a few blocks of Mexican restaurants, and a Dominican one (harking back to the Dominican Day parade on my arrival day) and was soon into the cushiest neighborhood of New York, browsing designer windows. On an earlier day I might have gotten back on the subway and started again. But I was running down. I decided to settle for luxe window shopping, with an emphasis on shoes.

Food report: prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich.

Photo report: random things that caught my eye, including moss between stones on a wall in Central Park (a visual metaphor?).

That night, my overnight, amazing-bargain-for-$30, express bus was to leave Chinatown at 10 p.m. For about twenty tense minutes, I thought I was going to miss it. Once again on this last day, Manhattan took the opportunity to show me that I didn't exactly have a grip on the place.

First, the subway ride was longer than I thought. Then, for the second time in the day, I confusedly got off a stop too soon. Then got bad directions and ran in the wrong direction with computer and heavy, heavy suitcase. Realized I'd gone wrong, and picked up speed in the other direction. Then thought: Get a cab, you idiot! (My sweet shrink husband Bob says to me at such moments: Don't talk that way to my wife.)

Cabs passed me by. With luggage, I looked as if I were heading for the airport at a time when it would be hard to get a fare back.

Finally, a nice driver stopped for me. He hadn't heard the name of the cross street before, but we figured it out. Got there only about 30 seconds after the supposed deadline.

The bus was then delayed a full half hour, waiting for three people who were running late.

The ride back wasn't as easy as the straight-through bus ride that had brought me to New York. This time, we stopped twice. Each time the bus driver turned on the lights and announced a ten minute break. Thus waking everyone who'd gone to sleep. Twice that happened.

In the morning, we rolled back onto my home turf. Exhausted, I went home and went to bed.

Didn't even blog.

Now, a day later, I'm recovered. I'm back in the regular life I most want: living with Bob out in the country, driving most days to my little office in Raleigh. I also have the full feeling of just having had a whole extra life-- in Manhattan.

I so love this idea of tucking in a bonus life.

I mean to keep writing on the subject here -- different kinds of extra lives, and how to make them happen. What could be bolder?

I'd love to hear your story about your own such experiences, and the one you're planning.

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kenju said...

Alas, I've had no bonus lives and none are planned. I do envy you that one!!

Every time I have been to NYC, it was with family and my time was not my own to do as I pleased. I would relish that!!

mamie said...

I love the pictures in this post, especially the market display. Thanks for taking us along on the trip.

billie said...

Welcome back! I'm thrilled you got to have 18 days of your bonus life - but am also glad that your full-time life is here!

I've been pondering what my bonus life might look like - I can't even come up with a place!

The dream life would be this: we'd have space at the coast and in the mountains, with horse accommodations. And a big rig for hauling 6 equines, 5 cats, and 2 Corgis comfortably and safely.

We'd travel between the 3 spaces depending on whim and the seasons, but staying at least two months in each place. There wouldn't be quick weekends.

If animals weren't involved, I'd open that lifestyle up to a much broader territory. When I was young (pre-high school) I wanted to live in NYC, Paris, and NC.

Now... I think I'd pick New Mexico, NC, and maybe Scotland. Although Italy was on my list a few years back.

Not sure why I'm picking 3 places - except I like staying one place several months in a row and 3 fits into a year's worth of months nicely.

Word verification is magma - which seems fitting... :)

Greta said...

Glad you're back home, Peggy, but just as glad you had your New York life. You look "New York" but you have the heart of NC.

I indulged about a year learning about Mexico, particularly the Copper Canyon. We drove to El Paso to spend a few days with my brother and his wife. To make a long story short, the drug lords interfered (not personally, just in general), so we cashed in our pesos, cancelled our Mexican car insurance and came home. I grieved for a long time over the lost experience of hostel sitting in the Canyon. BUT, I haven't given up and you're a good motivator for me!

Lynne said...

Welcome back to your NC life... Enjoyed the virtual trip, loved the spontaneity of your experiences, and food reports greatly appreciated.. It was fun. Catching that bus sounded a little harrowing tho. Glad you made it. whew....

Peggy Payne said...

Wow, thanks for all the welcomes back. Kenju, I hope you get some free-floating time in NYC.

Mamie, any compliment from you about photos is especially a treasure -- after what I've seen of yours at your blog and show.

Billie, I think you're practically at least three of those places. The detail you've already worked out does, as you know, make your plan more likely to happen.

I'm glad you haven't given up, Greta. Really tough to get so close and then not have the experience.

Lynne, I'm glad you suggested the food report. And didn't you have a bonus life yourself not too long ago in Mexico? Maybe you and Greta should compare notes.