Five number one I put on the desk as soon as I got into my hotel room at the Dylan on 41st St. I highly recommend it, for good value and amazing qualities like quotes about New York on every landing (I was on the 9th floor, can vouch for floors 1 through 9), and it’s location on Library Way, in itself a sparkling facet of a wondrous city. I always tip the housekeeping staff in hotels, because I eviscerate beds. The only time I think a person should lie prone and snug is in a casket. Beds are meant for sprawling, with tousled sheets you can stick a foot out of to gauge temperature and whether it is time to wake up. $5 for the maid, always and at least.
Five number two I spent on time. Sunday night I ambled. Wandered, meandered, didn’t want to commit to any one thing and was already headed for my cups after going for a beer with Iowaians from the conference, plus a glass of wine in Bryant Park where a statue of Gertrude Stein made me jump. She is in a lurky spot. On my jaunt I passed a guy handing out CD’s of his music. Harlem rap is not what I’m in to, and I declined, but waiting for the light to change I heard three other people decline as well. I turned around and extended my hand, getting a smile in return. We chatted. He’s trying to get his music heard. He’s never heard of the Tragically Hip, or Kingston. I handed him $5 and told him I thought his time was worth something. He gave me a fist bump, I went on my way. I left the CD along with my US change and the $5 bill for the maid.
Five number three was for connecting. My final morning I was scouting. I knew there were airport shuttles. I’d seen them driving around the neighbourhood. I’d seen signs too, indicating they stopped places, but didn’t know the how or when of it to catch one. I was heading for the library when I saw him. Grey haired, about my height. Like a playing card, or so the sandwich board he was wearing made it seem. I tootled over to him, and asked how to catch an airporter. He was answering me, looking down at the ground and seemed to expect me to dismiss what he was saying. When he was done I pretended to dance a jig and asked him if it was fun to take the shuttle. He looked at me, startled out of his automaton mode and smiled a grin that made up in surprise what it lacked in teeth. Sure is, he said. Scenic in a way and cheapest/fastest way out of downtown. Told me where to catch it so I was spared the milk run, told me how to get a ticket, how to make sure I didn’t miss the one I wanted, else I’d wait a half hour, told me what I needed to know. I handed him $5. Again a surprised grin. I told him he’d given me at least that much in valuable information, and time saved. I wished him good day, he wished me safe travels. I was glad we had connected.
Five number four was for promise. The New York Public Library is more than a repository of culture and potential. It is a trove of possibilities. The building alone is magnificent, guarded as it is by Patience and Fortitude. I gave Patience the stink eye when I went past, we don’t always see eye to eye. Fortitude I nodded at. She and “onwards” line up, we have gotten along at times in life. There was a free show on the history of photography. An open display on the history of spelling. Owl socks and art cards for sale in the bookstore that spoke to me of Memere, of friends, and of my kidlets at home. I stuffed four $5 bills in the collection box to support the library. I would have stuffed in four more had I had them. I sat on a marble bench inside, people watching and loving the hush, looking at the details from the cornices to the font used for the signage. I will go back, I promised myself. I want my kids to see it. I’m glad to know they’ll be in awe.
I hit up Starbucks when I got home – I had an evening of work ahead of me and not much brain power after travelling to do it. The barista asked me if I had a good weekend. I said indeed, I was in New York. She excitedly asked me if I went shopping, how was the shopping, what did I buy?! No shopping, I said, but a couple bucks bought me some lovely moments I was glad to have.