This week my thoughts return from India to the U.S. due to a trip to New York to attend a journalism-related dinner for which I managed to wangle a ticket, as well as the fact too much time has passed since I last had a good Long Island Iced Tea cocktail (hard to find in Austin).
NYC has been the scene of many previous visits ever since the early 2000s when I couldn’t shake off the impression it must be one of the world’s greatest cities. Every time I went back part of me feared that I’d find its allure diminished–but every time that fear proved unfounded.
Living there is another matter, I can appreciate, and recently I heard someone describe leaving NYC having found it the “loneliest place in the world.” As a freelance hack, I’m priced out of being able to contemplate living there, but I can at least afford the occasional trip, especially thanks to the kindest of a friend letting me stay on his couch up around 145th Street in Harlem.
I’ve never been to Harlem before and coincidentally have been reading much about it in “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” in which he describes its pulsating nightlight in the ’20s and ’30s as well as it streets “just crawling with everything you could imagine that was illegal and immoral.”
Harlem has changed a great deal, reportedly, evidenced by young, white professionals moving in and the occasional gawky Brit turning up to snooze on a couch.