Leaving on a jetplane

new york

I’m packing my stuff for my flight back to Manila tomorrow at 9AM. I have to be at JFK by 6, so I have to be on the road by 5. I can’t believe I had accumulated an extra luggage-full of clothes, mostly pasalubong for my mom and sisters, plus the two winter coats and the winter boots that I bought, courtesy of the mothership’s winter allowance for its staff who travel to certain destinations where temperatures drop below 17 degrees Celsius. I arrived with a one large luggage and a small bag last month. But thanks to the bulky purchases, I had to buy an extra huge maleta yesterday in Chinatown. It was also my fault, because I brought loooot of clothes from Manila, afraid that I would run out of things to wear. I could have left about half of what I had packed.

As if this was a reverse of last month’s events, Keng would bring me to JFK. I remember joking with Keng a few years ago that I’d be knocking on his door for a surprise visit. We were sharing a bottle of wine and cigarettes at Greenbelt gardens, looking at the stars, dreaming of what life could offer. That was in 2003 and I was well on my way to a full-on quarter-life crisis.

I wished then that it was that easy to get to NYC. In the years between then and now, all I could do was dream, have my heart broken, slog through my days, figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

Four years later, I got a taste of the dream. A month later, I’m going back to Manila. I miss NYC already.

But for now, I miss my life in Makati–the friends, the pizza-and-wine dinners at my apartment, my sister, badminton, the ideal December weather, the colorful clothes, my cable channels, laptop, my room, my extra gigs, the walk to and from the office, the wind on my face as I walk back to the apartment while listening to my favorite tunes on my mp3 player and dreaming of what could be.

A few thousand words on the streets of New York

New York City
A typical midtown New York street

grand central station, new york city
Inside Grand Central Station

the next time you buy one, it will be for me
I want one

grand central, chrysler building, new york city
Grand Central and Chrysler Building

Times Square, New York City
Times Square

rockefeller plaza new york city
The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge from South Street Seaport

Settling and Acclimating in the City

I’m not dead yet. Whoever said that office life in America was all work, work and more work was right. I’m glad that I’ve seen a few interesting places over the Thanksgiving holiday and last weekend.

NYC offers a lot of attractions for the weary worker, except that at the end of the day you’re so tired that all you really want to do is collapse in the comforts of your hotel room. The cold alone is enough to discourage one to go out. I guess that’s what being one of the locals is like.

I’m stying at an “extended stay” hotel near the New Jersey-NYC border. Most of its occupants are “expats” like me, such as Indians, Asians and a few Latinos. Last Monday, two Filipinos from another IT company in Makati checked in to the hotel. When we realized that we came from the same country (and city, no less), we easily chatted up. That afternoon as I was waiting for the R train at Whitehall, I met two more Filipinos who were also consultants to the same client. We didn’t just say the customary Hi’s and Hello’s; we even posed for photos. On any given day, things like these don’t happen in Manila.

Ginormous video adverts...

My route has become really familiar, that I have no worries crossing the NY-NJ border to and from work anymore. I guess I don’t really mind the hour-long travel each way due in part to the fact that there’s hardly any traffic jams and that I don’t have to deal with pollution and insane jeepney and bus drivers. The five-mile bus ride sometimes takes only 15 minutes, while the subway ride is about half an hour. Now, I’ve learned to take the express (Line 2 or 3 from W 42nd and 7th Avenue and then transfer to line 1 at Chambers St.), which cuts travel time by half.

Given the craziness of NYC, retiring at a quiet place away from the city is welcome. I’ve been terribly tired lately, though, that I don’t even have the energy to look around the vicinity, unlike during the Thanksgiving slow-down. I’m usually up by 5. For good or bad, there is no other choice but to wake up early because the earliest bus that stops in front of the hotel arrives before 7. It takes another 30 minutes for the next one to arrive, and by then I’m already terribly late.

Fall Foliage

Sunday afternoon, a co-worker and I walked around Central Park. It’s huge and well-maintained. The fall colors are lovely. Some parts of the park are unbelievably quiet, you’d think you were not in the middle of Manhattan. The only down side is that some parts of the park smell of dog poo.