A Day Spent Losing Myself in New York City – Or Trying to, At the Very Least (TheByteWeek Issue 12)

Through a hilariously convoluted series of events, I’ve found myself back in the city of my Winter time escapades. For all intents and purposes, I’m in New York City for the next 12 days, and have absolutely no idea how to spend my time here. Before my possible plans, however, a word of advice to all travellers: pick the aisle seat. I know you’re going to want to look out the window and observe the breathe-taking views and scenery that will roll by, but try to fight off your desire for beauty especially if your journey finds you travelling for an excess of 11 hours in a bus throttling down several highways, freeways, and interstates. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in the position of being unable to move your legs from their initial position until the occupant of the seat next to your own wakes up. This is, of course, all assuming that the adjacent occupant does sleep; if they don’t you’ll be more than capable of moving around the cabin of your chosen mode of transportation. In all seriousness, however, my complaints are completely unfounded; getting to New York was incredibly comfortable (if not cramped in a completely expected manner), and was no trouble whatsoever.

As always, the so-called “Big Apple” is as inviting as ever, if not akin to stepping into a sauna surrounded by the Sahara dessert, if the Sahara was on the sun. Ironically, my complaints this morning made complete sense given that the temperature was like the Gobi, but as I arrived in Times Square, and began acting like a sight-seeing tourist a torrential downpour manifested itself, though I do speak out of chronological turn.

My day began with me having no idea how to spend it; deciding to board the nearest train to whichever destination that sounded the most appealing, I boarded the #7 heading uptown to Times Square (for the simple reason that I wanted to reenact the scene from every famous film based in New York City by standing in the “Centre” of the square, facing the New Year’s Ball). Noticing that the #7 passes through Grand Central Terminal, one of the most beautiful train stations in the world, in addition to one of the most beautiful buildings in the world – and one that I’ve never visited – I decided to give my journey some direction. At that moment, I concluded that I would spend my day doing two things: I would blindly walk around Grand Central Terminal and Times Square, all while trying my hardest to get lost. My reasons weren’t entirely remarkable, though the purpose was self-interest and not novelty; I got off the train, walked around Grand Central Terminal and proceeded to enter the main concourse.

It’s a shame, but I haven’t yet found the words to describe the grand hall that serves as New York City’s largest train station. Certainly, the words I have found fail to encapsulate the sensation of walking into the massive concourse to find that one’s mouth has become unhinged in awe. For some reason, it’s very easy to imagine walking into the concourse and ignoring the ceiling, architecture, and overall ambiance, especially if there’s a train that simply won’t wait on the other side of the station. In such cases, I do recognize that there isn’t time to stand in the centre of the concourse and look around for half an hour, as I did, but given my lack of genuine concern for time, I took full advantage of my surroundings. It’s interesting to note that the terminal building’s architecture is somehow both in stark contrast and in conjunction with the buildings around it. The skyscrapers that seemingly never end, built in a very modern design, manage to accentuate the terminal’s overall look.

Sadly, my knowledge of architecture is depressingly bleak, so I won’t make a show of discussing topics I don’t fully understand myself, but I’ll say this: the building looks stunningly ancient compared to the beaming towers that surround it and, as such, it’s very pretty.

Concluding the time I spent gawking at the Terminal, I attempted to get lost in a small portion of Manhattan. I decided to follow the green light and walk signal, never waiting for a light to turn green, always walking in the direction of an open street, first to get an interesting zig-zag view of the few blocks I travelled, and second to see if I could actually lose my way. Interestingly enough, even though I only followed green lights, and even though my sense of position didn’t extend past acknowledging street names, I managed to find myself back at the entrance of Grand Central Terminal. Through no attempt on my part, I somehow managed to travel from 42nd street, all the way to 39th street, passing through Lexington, Madison, 5th, and Park avenue, all the back to the entrance of Grand Central Terminal on 42nd street. After trying to understand how it happened, and deducing that it was nothing more than luck and coincidence that I wouldn’t have to retrace my steps back, I continued towards Time Square.

I must admit that I do realize my first day spent alone in New York is reminiscent of most popular films based in the city – I plan on recreating the well-known scene from Woody Allen’s Manhattan looking at the Queensboro bridge sometime soon – though I can guarantee that the remaining portion of the trip will not be spent in such a way.

Times Square proved to be an interesting paradigm as it started to rain almost exactly as I exited the station. I say rain, though I feel that it’s better to describe the event as a low category hurricane hitting the city, reversing the temperature from “Hot as a solar flare” to “Relatively warm and enjoyable, despite the torrential downpour occurring in the relative vicinity.” Needless to say, I didn’t spend very much more time in Times Square, and considering that I dived in and out of stores, strategically of course, to avoid the rain, I did enjoy my time there. Much like Grand Central Terminal, the movies, films, and television specials I’ve seen were entirely unable to live up to the real location – it’s a beautiful amalgamation of consumerism at its finest, and is, quite simply, a sight to behold. Granted, it’s not so much fun when Ororo decides to unleash her mutant powers on an entire burrow, but the sentiment is capable of remaining despite the climate.

My day ended by eating some Thai food in a restaurant in Queens and typing this article. The rain has stopped, and, most likely due to, today’s short journeys have exhausted me. In any case, my first day in New York City has been, in a word, remarkable. I’m trying very hard to not produce lyrics written by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, if only because the time isn’t right; regardless, day turns to night, and exhaustion turns to sleep.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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