Monday, September 25, 2006

I Return, Bravely, Sans Gas Mask

Raj and I arrived late last night at JFK after a 5 1/2 hour flight from Vancouver. By the end of the journey I was antsy to be home, if only to have my own bed and to be able to put my bags down without the need to pick them up anytime soon. From the cab window, my first view of the Midtown tunnel made my stomach tighten as I thought about work. I looked to the lights of the city, expecting to feel happiness at returning home, but instead felt a curious lack of excitement. It was strange and unexpected because usually returning to the city incites within me a feeling of exhilaration, along with the normal feelings of happiness associated with coming home.

I rolled down my window and the air of the city washed over me. In stark contrast to the clean, fresh air of the Canadian Rockies, the air in New York felt gritty and stale, and evoked images of millions of microscopic suspended carcinogenic particles. The air smelled smoky, not like cigarettes, but rather like the hot acrid smell of of burned gas or wood. Mixed in with the smokiness were hints of garbage, sewage, exhaust, pretzels, unidentifiable pollutants, and sudden flashes of perfume.

Awash in this odiferous bouquet, picturing ash particles flowing into my lungs, I suddenly realized why the health-conscious and environmentally aware Canadians and Europeans would find New York filthy, repugnant, and dangerous. The air alone is probably all of these.

By the time the cab stopped in front of our apartment, the air had begun to feel normal, and I felt a sense of relief to see our purple-curtained bedroom window. I struggled to find the keys at the bottom of my backpack and then pushed the door open, holding it with one foot so that Raj could pass through with most of our luggage. As I went to enter our apartment building, a heavily made-up woman with bright blonde hair, high platform heels, and a mini-skirt sashayed somewhat clumsily down the hall towards the door. I let her pass, and saw that she was actually one of our male neighbors decked out in drag. "Looks like we're home," I said to Raj.

5 comments:

Tracy said...

Welcome home, Ms. Buttercup! Coming back to NYC was often a mixed bag of emotions for me.

P.S. I noticed you took down your ticker. But if it were still up, I believe your days left would be down to double digits!

Gypsy said...

Welcome home!

Buttercup said...

Thanks Gypsy and Tracy!

Tracy - Bean and I had a template issue so the ticker vanished, but we were able to get it back up an running. And no, I'm not yet in double digits, but almost!!

Anonymous said...

Coming back is always strange for me, too. The city always seems louder and dirtier than before. Still, given a day or so, I;m back in the grove--loving the rush of strange (neighbors in drag!) and beautiful people.

InterstellarLass said...

As I get older, I want to escape to a little cabin in the woods. I never used to think I could do that. But now, I'm starting to believe I can.