I try to go to the subway, but I’m overwhelmed by the crowd and in the ocean of people I can see strange things. I see an old lady with red hair half-naked wearing a thong, nipple covers and a cowboy hat. Thank God, the guitar is covering the flat breasts and the belly full of stretch marks. She is like a stalker, playing country music and sometimes moves up the guitar to show her body, by now decadent.
Walking hand- in- hand are two mature fetish men, with a jockstrap and a piercing in the nipples. Even though how rough the scene is, it is still very sweet. Another tramp frightens the poor girls by showing what he has on his shoulder… MICE! Fortunately I’m a male and I denote a sense of misogyny in him – pleased when the girls looks horrified and frightened by that vision. If it had happened to me, my suitcase for reflection, he had already thrown over the head of the poor homeless and his friends had already returned to the sewers!
I see great signs advertising in Time Square; that change every 10 seconds, and I wonder why the technology hasn’t come in the subway, too? I don’t ask about this. Now the escalators. I take the weight of luggage and feel the advantages of my daily gym, as I am trying to figure out the direction for the Lower East Broadway subway station. I’m on 30th street, so I take the subway. I don’t know how many stops I’ll have to go down, I haven’t got a map, and on the inside of the train there is no trace of the subway line directions. There are only advertisements in Spanish. After a dozen stops I see the word of my destination. I check my watch and noted with surprise that it is 10. I am exhausted because I realize with the jet leg, it’s 4 a.m. and for me, this means that I haven’t slept for almost 24 hours!
Public telephones don’t work, as in Italy, because obviously with the advent of the mobile phone, they are not used. So I enter into a Chinese takeaway and ask the girl if she can make me a call on her mobile phone. She smoothly passes me her pink iphone, Hello Kitty style. Calling Rafael I tell him my position, referring to everything I see: signs, shops, restaurants, directions, but it is useless because he doesn’t have any idea. I mention the Chinese restaurant where I’m calling from but he didn’t say anything, shit! He told me about something he called a local 69. I tell him that I’ll wait for him there.
While waiting there, and after several glances, I notice a bouncer, a lady out for her cigarette. She see me alone, so she chats me up – asking me if I’m leaving or have I just arrived. I replied to her, she smiles at me, almost familiar, like a Swedish person and in fact I find that she is precisely from Sweden!
Actually if I think about it, there is always a Swedish connection in this journey: the local FIKA in Brick Lane and now the Swedish lady who goes out to smoke a cigarette and gives me a welcome as soon as I touch U.S. ground. It might be as good an omen as the coin. Sweden now gives me positive energy and I believe that thanks to this random encounter, this trip will be a success!
Unfortunately Ingrid makes me feel tired and yet obviously I am excited to have met a Swedish woman, the story of my trip to Scandinavia with my steps. As soon as I say the city Umeå, she comes up so close, that I nearly touch her cigarette on my face!
She confess to me that Umeå is her hometown and suddenly she feels homesick when I talk to her. She gives me a big hug and thanks me for reminding her of her homeland; give me a high five. I wish her good luck, this time coming from my heart, almost as if I was a bit touched, and as if we were old friends. She gives me a kiss before returning to the room.
As soon as Ingrid vanishes, Rafael appears. Honestly I imagined him to be different. Hispanic, definitely, but perhaps a little younger. However, he is in his forties, of Mexican origin with the classic moustache and hair combed and slicked with the line on one side. As we head into the house, he tells me that tonight we will sleep in Manhattan, as he has the keys to the apartment of a friend, but tomorrow we will go to Queens.
Not to be a snob, but honestly, I associate the Queens with the Eddie Murphy movie “Coming to America” and I imagine that homeless people are on the streets, derelict buildings and degraded criminals. I must confess that even though this neighborhood is a bit ‘degraded, but for one night, I’m happy. Tomorrow I will go in search for a Couch Surfer here in Manhattan or at most, in Brooklyn. Reading the guide, it tells me that in fact the Queens and Bronxs are not recommended, as the places are degraded, and the only good thing about this area, is that it is close to the airport.
Even before entering, Rafael asked me to wait for about ten minutes a few meters away from the building, as there is a guard and they do not allow guests. So the plan is that he takes the suitcases in and then we go in together.
Ten minutes pass and honestly I think seriously about whether I’ll see my bags again ! I don’t know why, but I have a sixth sense, that I can’ t trust much of Rafael. My confidence is shot down when I cross the street and Rafael beckons me to cross the street and go up. He offers me a glass of water and while I rest for a moment on the couch, I see an American program where the presenter is an Italian who speaks with an Italian chef who lives in New York, and explains how to cook the bucatini all’ Amatriciana. Although I’m in New York, I feel so close to Italy!
As soon as the glass of water is finished, I fall asleep on the couch. When I wake up in the morning, there is a note from Rafael, telling me he is already at work. He asks me to be courteous, to leave before his roommate, because he has the keys and be careful, because once his roommate goes out, and takes the key, I’ll be stuck in the house.
I peek into the other room and I see a guy who sleeps blissfully. Fortunately I don’t run this risk.