Wednesday, May 15, 2013

{central park and the great jacket theft of 2013}

I'd been in New York for exactly three hours when my jacket got stolen. I'd been in New York for less than four hours when I met a girl named Maggie in the lobby of my hostel who gave me a new jacket because she was scared I'd catch a cold. I tried my best to assure her that I was ok, partly to be polite and partly because of my grave fear of lice and my semisubconscious belief that every single jacket/toque/headrest in the world that is not mine has it, but she was insistent and stubborn and I ended up with a new coat that was actually much nicer than my old one had been.

And so it was that within 60 minutes I learned the Golden New York Rule: The city has takers and givers, and you should always be on the look-out for both, without ever assuming right away that a person is one or the other.

(Thankfully, most of the people I encountered in my first few hours in NYC were of the giver variety.)

Upon landing at LaGuardia, I'd immediately discovered the serious lack of free wifi and it hit me like a sack full of horses that I'd have to navigate using a map. Like, a paper map. The kind of map that you fold up and keep in your purse, the kind without a zoom feature or a GPS system or a funny robotic voice that tells you to turn left in 50 metres.

So I found myself holding one such map and standing in front of the large glass doors that led to New York, like Tom Hanks in that movie about the guy who lives in the airport and can't go into New York because his country is at war and his passport is invalid. I found myself wondering why and how I'd ended up here in this spot all by myself and how I was going to figure out how to get to my hostel, which was somewhere in Manhattan.

And then, because I didn't want to waste another New York Minute, I hoisted my backpack to my shoulders and zipped up my jacket, which at that point hadn't been pilfered yet, bought a chocolate bar from the conveniently-located newspaper stand next to me and stepped out into the sunlight.

I squinted at my map. (I would soon come to realize that asking for help in New York is kind of the same deal as hailing a taxi. To hail a taxi, you raise your hand, to ask for help from a passing stranger, you squint at a map.) A woman appeared at my elbow. "Where are you headed darlin'?" she asked. She was eating a sandwich and wore a vest that said something about transit on it.

"101 West and... Broad...way? I think?" Things you should write down when you're not sure if you'll have free wifi later on or not.

"This bus, the m60. It'll take you right there," she said. And like magic, there was a bus.

I got on the bus and sat down in the only empty seat, next to a guy with thick black glasses and a book on his lap. He looked smart, probably because he was wearing thick black glasses and had a book on his lap.

"Where are you from?" He asked.

"Saskatchewan," I said.

"Oh. Is that in Europe?" he asked.

"No, Canada," I said gently.

"Oh. Huh. I've never heard of it," he said. He turned the book over in his lap. I don't want to assume that he did this so I could see that he was reading A Tale of Two Cities and think he was smart even though he'd never heard of Saskatchewan, but I feel like that might have been the case. "I mean!" he added in a flustered voice, "I've heard of Canada. Just not that city. The one you're from." I nodded. The conversation died a slow and grisly-looking death right there in front of us. He picked up his book and started reading. I noticed that he was on page 3. I felt awkward, like the way you feel when you see an elegant old woman trip and fall on her face and you simultaneously feel the need to help her and pretend you didn't see it happen to preserve her dignity all at once.


While all of these shenanigans were going on, the bus was going over a couple of bridges and past a toll booth and through Harlem and I ended up at my hostel roughly 45 minutes later. And none of the people I was supposed to meet were there.

So I bought a sandwich and set out to find Central Park.
 photo D620A12F-1FCE-4136-9775-08226239D60C-1800-000000F1847925FE_zps32ccc262.jpg  photo A5BD14AB-FF65-45BD-A7C6-B3761376160A-1800-000000F194A81457_zpsbe44db07.jpg  photo 31EE8893-DE9E-47D1-A634-1C9C567F685E-1800-000000F18B55C6D4_zpse4f15dc2.jpg  photo 8D84BEF8-B2B4-4180-8F95-88BC7ACDF39E-1800-000000F17CE16309_zpsaf40889a.jpg  photo 702B613E-A553-498A-ACEE-C04C4B646A96-1800-000000F17382F801_zpse525eb21.jpg  photo F27B6562-C9F8-45D4-9B62-C989A13221D2-1800-000000F16BDD0BD3_zpsd4347930.jpg  photo CE94DCD4-8FCA-4CDA-8595-F7DBF473850A-1800-000000F15B5EC8B6_zps3153db24.jpg  photo 34FD9E6C-19E0-4756-8570-7A2166685D6E-1800-000000F14E409D47_zps112011c1.jpg  photo FE30819E-6221-43DA-B637-4F73F5669AD1-1800-000000F1459BB353_zps2ba712de.jpg  photo A26BA192-4E22-43DB-997C-AE4A0F938471-1800-000000F14008F051_zps5552ff0d.jpg  photo E40A9524-917E-4654-A75F-24A78FD18C29-1800-000000F134678372_zps09f6e586.jpg  photo 49D2C524-7E46-4785-9A10-69CCFADD22EF-1800-000000F1294DC6C2_zpsab5a495b.jpg  photo 59DF51BD-B707-432A-A3A1-2B2A654FA99B-1800-000000F11C62F991_zps71f4a18b.jpg  photo 0C1A7388-444E-48EF-BED7-580229021912-1800-000000F110F086C4_zps2c869a46.jpg  photo 844A6AAE-A769-469D-A821-CF7C301E9FD7-1800-000000F088F325AB_zps610348d8.jpgI wound my way over perfect bridges and under weepy trees and tried to think of every song and story and movie about Central Park. I got all daydreamy and wandered for hours. It was pretty fantastic.

Anyway, that was when my jacket got stolen. I stopped to look at some water and a taker took it.

(It was a good jacket; it didn't have a hood or anything, but it was brown, and I liked that about it. Oh well.)