Indeed, New York, as many know, has three airports: the most important, JFK (John Fitzgerald Kennedy) located near Brooklyn, then there’s La Guardia, which is the domestic airline which is in Queens and Newark; this I discovered when I bought the plane ticket! Actually, Newark could be part of the state of New Jersey and not of the state of New York, but apparently it’s closer to Manhattan.
Before leaving the airport I call Rafael and I confirm that I’ve arrived in New York. Confirming my place to stay gives me an indication of what time I have left to get there: 10pm! I hope to make it in time. Now that I haven’t got a phone to communicate with, the stress comes when I don’t know if I can expect a delay or if I can be on time. Me!! Who? I’m a chronic latecomer!
Many people told me to be careful because this city is full of criminals and I can get lost. First of all, call it luck. I prefer using my sense of direction, going straight to the exit where there was a bus, that was loading the luggage. Now the bad guys will lose out with me: I have little money but I have a “coffin “where I keep four suits. Probably the criminals will pull some money for pain!
I purchase a ticket to Penn Station. A girl annoys me with her attitude as she asks me for $16 for the ticket. I have a spurt of joy coming from every pore and I give her the money with a beaming smile; as if I had purchased the winning lottery ticket. She looks at me with a look that is a bit ‘snobby’, almost as if to say, “Why the fuck are you so happy, you’re in New York, so what?”
On the way, I follow the way that Rafael sent me via email and I had recorded on my agenda. From this information, the journey on the bus will take about 50 minutes. At that moment I realized it was barely 7pm! It will take more than 3 hours in total to get to the rendezvous point. It seems too much to do in so short a time!!
On the way I ask some information from two boys near me, about Penn Station, that is in front of Times Square, there is such a crowd and my sense of direction is like a drop of water in the ocean. One of the guys asked me where I am from, and so I reveal that I am an Italian, from Rome. He looks at me, surprised, because in two weeks he leaves for Rome, and it wasn’t his first time to visit the Eternal City. In fact, he tells me that the last time he remained for three months, for the purpose of study, because if you study architecture, you must go to Rome. Actually I remember many American friends that I met in Rome, who study architecture, telling me that too. It seems as if it is important for them to go to Rome; it is a kind of apprenticeship. The guy is so excited to meet a Roman and he tries to speak Italian, with a strong American accent on the vowels and emphasizing the R.
The journey takes so little time that there was not even time to introduce myself, I wonder if I’ll ever see that American, if not in New York, who knows one day in Rome, on one of his trips.
I get off the bus and people are hurriedly collecting their luggage. I am petrified of Times Square. Americans mingling in the crowd and they greet me shouting, ‘good luck.’ I seem to be addicted to all those signs, pillars, theater, and skyscrapers that seem as if the city is going to swallow you.
The driver calls me to get my suitcase, and it is the only one left. I rest for a couple of minutes to enjoy the first moments of the Big Apple. I can’t believe it, I’m in New York! It seems like a dream!