I did not want to go to NYC, it’s the stuff of nightmares for an L.A. native. But it was amazing and I don’t regret it. My first night was in a company-timeshare hotel on Wall St. I walked out the next morning and there it was…
The NY Stock Exchange. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t understand that Wall St is an actual street. Later they gave me a company apartment one block from the Scores strip club that Howard Stern visits, I was there for two months. The fifth floor apartment sucked, no elevator and heating/air conditioning/hot/cold water were unpredictable. But it was free.
I visited Ground Zero. I was almost completely alone, even visitors didn’t want to be there. I walked the entire Central Park a few times and ventured into Harlem. I ate dinner in the Empire State building. I accidentally crashed a private party in Greenwich Village but the bartender laughed and kept serving me free drinks.
My second night in NYC was Cinco De Mayo and as I passed a latino club, three men grabbed me, pulled me inside and bought me a shot. At first I thought they were scamming me but they burst into laughter, bought me another shot and pulled out business cards. A stock broker, a real estate agent, and something else. I spent that night getting drunk with them and it was tremendous fun.
I alternately rode the subway/walked to Rockefeller Center, JP Morgan bank on the fortieth floor and a window view. I spent my free time at the Blue Room, a seedy bar a few blocks from the apartment which often had local sports celebrities. One befriended me on my first visit and we met there three or four nights each week. He took me to other bars, restaurants, introduced me to friends and we often drank until 4am. I met two cute Swedish twins, another woman who was couch-surfing around the world, a strange, bald IT guy who’d just been laid off. I met so many people through him that I started bumping into them at other bars and restaurants.
During my last week in NYC, I told him (and the bald IT guy) I was leaving and they almost cried. I felt so strange about it. He declared that I couldn’t leave and I asked why. He said, “Because you’re a regular and you belong here”. The bald guy nodded his agreement.
An Indian co-worker at JP Morgan was upset, he’d just found out his car repair would be $500. I asked him what was wrong, “the brakes”, he said. I told him to do it himself; buy a car manual, the pads would be $30 or so but he was skeptical. The next Monday he walked up, shocked me with a big hug and said, “You are my friend forever”. He’d done what I’d suggested and saved himself $450.
Towards the end I got pneumonia in NYC, probably from too much alcohol, not enough sleep and too many people in proximity. It was an unusual strain specific to crowded cities and the antibiotics didn’t work well, I lost weight for two weeks which triggered a gall bladder attack, the most pain I ever had. I was in the ER room for fifteen hours and learned the true awesomeness of morphine. A few days later my ex-wife scheduled surgery for me and I left NYC on a flight to Charlotte, NC to retrieve my car and drive back to Phoenix.