Neil is English, from Essex, in effect, he has the classic features of English folk; blonde hair with fair skin and a skinny body. He works for Sony, on Madison Avenue between 55 th and 56 th street. When he gave me the address, I was afraid of not finding it. I thought it was just a store, but as soon as I arrived at the meeting point, I notice a skyscraper of thirty-seven floors, with windows. There is a huge showroom of TVs, DVDs, cameras, cars cameras and all that is technological. Also at the center of the showroom as an island in the ocean hi-tech, there is Starbucks. Inside the building there are also tables under cover, but having the glass roof you can enjoy the beautiful day with air conditioning. The skyscraper is a slightly pink granite, constituting one of the most famous examples of postmodern architecture. In fact several sources to which this architectural concept is based: the Chicago School for the structures to the board, but also Renaissance sources as Palladio.
Already seen from a distance, I distinguish its construction to be of the modern tradition, and called the neo-classical architecture, since the triangular shape corresponds to that of a drum. As in many architectural structures, the style of which was built at that time in the 70s, it was considered in bad taste. Even the building is ironically referred to by New Yorkers as Chippendale, with reference to the designer classic furniture, perhaps in reference to the roof, which incorporates a bit ‘in the form of a dresser.
Neil is there waiting for me with his briefcase, he looks a bit tired and he shares his complaints of his stressful day. I proposed to go directly to his apartment, first of all because of our tiredness and also for me to see, where I will stay. The house is very close and you have to cross a few avenues, but it would be up to 10 minutes. However, a free shuttle comes along and that takes us to right under the building, where Neil lives.
As soon as I get off the bus, I see the buildings in New York, that I saw in the movies: an usher who opens the door, greets us warmly. There is another employee at the front desk and an elevator lacquered with gold. Within the elevator, I read how many floors there are: 40! The studio is located on the 31st floor. I think of the tallest skyscrapers in Rome, which rise to 10-15 levels, less than half of what they are here and are just offices. As soon as the door opens, I see the panorama of skyscrapers, so close to my eyes, as if it was a postcard. The studio is not huge, but it is very bright, white furniture and walls, which is contrasted by the light gray sheets and carpet. In addition, a poster of New York takes the whole wall, while the other thousands of DVDs and CDs of the brand Sony are there as well. I’m still stunned by the breathtaking view and I think that this is much better than the apartment on the Lower East Side, without detracting from the hospitality and kindness of Rafael, but the situation is incomparable. I accept the enthusiastic invitation for the weekend and then on Monday, I will go to Sid.
While he gives me something to drink, he tells me about when he lived in Rome, also working for Sony. Actually, he lived in Tor Sapienza; that if we have to compare it to New York, it is comparable to the Lower East Side of New York! Sometimes Neil tries to talk to me in Italian, with his British accent; sometimes he sighs. He seems like Laurel and Hardy! However, I continue to speak in English, I have no intention of speaking Italian in New York, unless I will meet an Italian like me! I want to give the idea that there are as many Italians who have trouble speaking English, I want to be part of the place, even using the language! So after trying a few times to speak Italian, Neil continues with his English accent, speaking of Rome. We share about the times in which we live, and how over time Rome has changed! Yesterday I saw that on a TV program. Now as we talk about Rome, I realize that even though I am overseas, Rome and Italy are always close!
The signs of the trip are starting to be seen, I feel a little bit of shame, I have a bladder on the wrist due to rubbing with a suitcase! Thinking back to 9 p.m. when I was with Rafael in Lower East Broadway; he had warned me that there would be another guy tonight, as well as me. So I take the advantage and I know that I am going to tell him, that if I am there too, there will be less space. I see them in the distance on the other side of the road, put on his hand up. The other couch surfer is Hungarian, tall and he looks a bit ‘introverted’, like most of the Eastern boys , and when I asked him some questions, he answered me in monosyllables. I launch the bomb:
– Rafael, I must tell you one thing: forgive me, but I’ve found another place for tonight, here in Manhattan. I don’t want to snub your hospitality, but honestly, I feel safer in Manhattan, rather than Queens, even if you tell me you live in a residential area that is quiet .
His head is carried away by gravity and I see a face that looks a little bit disappointed, but then with a smile he mentions that he understands my situation. He understands that it is not about him as the reason that I‘ve I decided to change the accommodation, but for the area. So he wishes me good luck for the Big Apple and he give me a lift .
GOODBYE QUEENS, MANHATTAN WELCOME BACK!