*NEW YORK CITY, USA
4:22 AM After 14 months of continuous world travel, I arrive at LaGuardia Airport in New York to go back home for a few days to restock my travel gear.
5:06 AM Looking out the taxi window wide awake as the Queens urbanscape passes by with the sun nowhere to be seen, familiarity starts to set in as does reverse culture shock.
5:39 AM The taxi stops at the corner of 34th Street and 6th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, one of the busiest intersections in the world – also the location of my apartment, the Herald Towers.
5:46 AM I walk in to my apartment and everything looks familiar but it feels like I’m in someone else’s home. It’s been over a year so it’s an odd feeling to be “home”. But my bed is just as I remember.
11:11 AM One of the many iPhone alerts from my New York friends wake me up, I make a wish. I pull the blackout curtains on my floor-to-ceiling windows quickly like a bandage. Jet-lagged and unsettled, I feel like a vampire with the fierce sun glazing me, but then my eyes focus and I see the urban canyon that is 6th Avenue in all its glory from the 25th floor. I’m actually home.
11:12 AM I open my refrigerator realizing half way that I haven’t been here in over a year so it’ll be empty. I close it and then get dressed.
12:21 PM I walk the dozen or so blocks to Ray’s Pizza, home of the world’s greatest pizza – no joke. On the way there, I feel like a foreigner visiting for the first time, like a nervous tourist. Very strange.
12:47 PM Finally, my comfort level returns as I see the barely changed faces of a couple of my friends waiting for me at our usual table. We feast.
2:31 PM While taking the subway to my friend’s rooftop loft on the Upper East Side, I get that nervous tourist feeling again. Even though I’ve taken these trains thousands of times over the course of 20 years. So this is reverse culture shock. I kinda like it. It makes me feel alive and the old new again.
5:54 PM Chilling on top of Manhattan with a few beers in me with great friends, I finally feel like the New Yorker that I am. It’s good to be home. I’m vibing.
7:12 PM As we see the sun fade into the city from the rooftop, more friends arrive as well as a few new faces – they bring food and we commenced with barbequing massive amounts of food.
7:58 PM At this point I’m fat and drunk. Life’s good.
8:31 PM Beer now all gone and everyone amped, we make moves. The 9 of us end up on the street trying to decide what to do.
8:45 PM Still deciding…
9:12 PM After all the group brainstorming, we end up on my friend’s townhouse front steps with a fresh case of beers. But I like this, it’s classic NYC chilling. Something I haven’t done in many years.
10:37 PM We make moves again, now to the East Village to go bar hopping.
1:54 AM Bar after bar after bar, we lost 4 of our friends but gained 6 strangers straggling along.
2:31 AM Being prime clubbing time for NYC, we walked to a nightclub with no name but with a line of people waiting to get in like it had a big name. I talk to the doorman and we get right in.
3:54 AM Boom, boom, boom, boom… Classic New York house music. I missed this. Lot’s of dancing, grinding, fist pumping and Red Bulls.
4:22 AM Now exactly 24 hours since arriving in New York. I’m still wide awake.
5:14 AM We close out the club then crash a party at a penthouse in SoHo we heard about from a group of girls I met at the club. It’s mostly people sitting around doing party favors and playing drinking games, but hell, it is 6 in the morning and its a nice place. We stay.
6:41 AM Still energized, I decide to leave these zombies. The sun rapidly hitting the streets, I start walking towards my apartment in Herald Square. It takes forever, but in a good way. There’s something special about walking through the “City That Never Sleeps” on a Sunday morning with it nearly empty, because everyone’s asleep.
7:54 AM I’m home, finally. Before going to bed, I book a flight to Tokyo leaving in 72 hours.
[The featured photo was taken at the Top of The Rock in NYC. ]