At the beginning, New York changed my habits: from incurable latecomer to starting to arrive early…even before I had an American sim card. With the ability to immediately warn my friends that I’m arriving, I am starting to heal from the disease of being punctually late. I’m healing but not cured, meeting with them a few minutes late. When I get off at the metro, Scott sends me a message telling me that he will wait for me in a park. He tried to give me the coordinates. Although the streets of Manhattan are simple and logical, cause the streets and avenues are numbered, I hate the logic and numbers! I hate them even more when a street like Broadway, extends diagonally and completely disorients you!
From Greenwich to the ferry, the streets stop being numbered and start to be indicated by proper names and landmarks such as Spring, Christopher, Lafayette, Mulberry. Now that I am used to logical sense, I am back to being in a city such as no other, and I’m totally disoriented. Scott understands my condition and came towards me. I see him wave his hand on the opposite side of the avenue, and it’s impossible to not see him. He’s tall, almost 1 meter and 90! I cross the avenue he hugs me strongly, maybe too much, as I feel a bone that pops! I learned that greeting in the United States it’s not like in Europe with a kiss, but with a hug, or for macho men a vigorous pat on the back!
Scott is of Norwegian origin, but was born and grew up in New York and works as a business man on Wall Street. He asks me where I prefer to eat. I have no idea at all, and the decision is even more difficult when there are too many choices!
I know foreign cuisine, so I choose a local restaurant, the classic New Yorker bistro. At the beginning, Scott asked me if I want to eat Italian food, but honestly, I avoid it when I’m abroad. First of all I don’t want to be a classic Italian with a closed mind eating Italian outside Italy, and secondly because I would like to taste local cuisine. Although American food is burgers and fries and it’s really healthy, I wouldn’t want Italian food anywhere other than Italy, as it is never same! I remember when I was in France they use pasta as a side dish, a blasphemy for an Italian. Moreover it was presented more as a swallow’s nest, anemic, overcooked, without a little olive oil and salt. It was a pasta which would have disgusted even the patients of the hospital. To add injury to insult the mozzarella, a must in Italy, is often abroad is often replaced with Emmental cheese or worst something liquid that solidifies during cooking! With these thoughts in mind, we decided to eat a good hamburger! It will be better than a margherita pizza!
Before getting out food, however, we stopped at a tiny, but welcoming wine bar to have a drink. I take a rosé, while Scott; takes his favorite wine, the Moscato. We discuss our travel experiences, as we saw in April. I listen to his feelings about Rome, although I already know, but continue to listen again throughout the cultural exchange. He confesses to me that Rome is the most beautiful city he had ever been to and he would like to live there. Thus, I propose an exchange: Me in New York and he in Rome! Smiling, he accepts. He was making a note that I stay some time. “Of course” I answer in an adventurous and swaggering way. And everything I say he teases me emphasizing it even more “Of course”! I don’t mind. I’m very self-ironic! After two glasses of wine, my head starts to turn and I believe that maybe it’s time for dinner!
We finally arrived at the traditional American restaurant, Spartan. When the waiter saw someone enter the restaurant, he greeted us with two menus and escorted us to a table behind the window. Avocado salad was the starter and then came the burger with some fries. I continue, long-winded, to talk about my trip. Scott admires my courage. He can’t effort to do it, and he pays attention to the Couch Surfing experience. I admit that at the beginning, I was worried, too, but it was the chance to always have positive experiences, even when I found myself in some questionable location such as on the Lower East Side. Even though I didn’t want to go to Queens at the time, Rafael was a very kind person and I guess that he really upset when I told him that I wouldn’t go with them, I felt guilty!
Scott looked at me with a mix of admiration and attraction. I realized there was a slight interest beyond friendship. I blush a bit, feeling slightly uncomfortable in the silence. Fortunately, our dishes were coming which break the ice, due to its compliments. Looking into the dessert list, there is the cheesecake and I love it! It ‘s my favorite dessert after tiramisu and is usually traditional as I always have it for my birthday. Eating it in one’s own country is ideal, but Scott tells me not to order the dessert because he wants to take me to a place where I’ll surely appreciate it.