The Tourist

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June 29th 2006
Published: June 29th 2006
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It was 11am when my flight landed, but it might as well have been night. The sky was dark, the weather, damp. And the humidity hung over the city the way smoke does in a bar just before closing. But that didn’t matter. It wouldn’t have mattered if the sewers had backed-up and varmints had finally taken over. I loved this dirty town.

I had taken a 2-week vacation from my assignment in the Far East. A visit home seemed like a good way to catch up with old friends, spend time with the family and eat as much salami as a person could do without dying.

I had been away seven months. Everybody wanted to see me and I did all I could to fit ‘em in. Lunch with Johnny. Drinks at McLaughlin’s. Then a nightcap or two before turning in. I was back in the swing of things, barely missing a beat.

But it didn’t take long for things to go wrong. I had a nervous feeling. Something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Just getting to sleep became a chore because I knew I’d be up 3 hours later, pacing the floor. I started to suspect a parasite had hitched a ride in my intestines and was making me pay for all the cheap meals I had had in Sumatra.

I thought I'd walk it off and ended up in the ‘ol neighborhood. I stopped by the Pink Pony for a cup of coffee. There was a new waitress, fresh from Dallas with blonde hair and the slow way words dripped out of her mouth made me forget about my troubles for a while.

“So y’all live in the neighborhood?” She asked me, looking me over with her pretty green eyes.
“Not anymore. But I used to live over at 190.”
“So where y’at now?
“Banda Aceh, Indonesia.”
That gets 'em every time. I decided to help her out.
“I’m just here for a visit.”
“Oh, well then there's a nice hotel just up the block...”
“I’m not a tourist dammit!” I snapped at her and slammed my cup down. She bit her lip, and backed away.

No dame from Texas was gonna tell me what to see in my own damn town.

And then it hit me. That’s what’s been buggin' me. Blondie was right. I didn’t live here anymore as much as the next cheap tourist that just got off the bus at Port Authority with a suitcase and taxi fare. The signs had been there, but I had ignored every one of ‘em. My apartment had been let, my possessions, packed away. My main squeeze had kicked me to the curb. And I had even gotten lost getting back to the place I was staying at - twice.

“I used to have a life here!” I gritted between my teeth to no one in particular. But nobody cared. Not New York. Not even Blondie. She had already moved on to the next customer.

I paid my bill, grabbed my hat and hit the streets. So this was the way it’s gonna be, huh? Frankly, I didn’t know where I belonged anymore. I was ready to go back to the Far East, but after that, I didn’t know. All I did know is that I had a new home now - nowhere and everywhere.


29th June 2006

welcome to your new life... can be frustrating at times, but liberating overall.
29th June 2006

Sing it, Sister
I feel your pain, Erica. I thought coming back to New York would be a piece of cake. But when half my heart is still in London, it means I've lost the sense of what "home" even means in any more. I know a lot of people in this situation, people who never stop traveling or who live in multiple cities. I don't know yet what the answer is, but I think it's a relatively new phenomenon and we're probably all evolving toward a new understanding of home. If it helps at all, you're always welcome in my home (wherever it happens to be).
29th June 2006

i could see it in your face
What a beautiful story erica. you put well into words what i was sensing from you while you were home, uh i mean in nyc, yah, home. i know that feeling, i’ve been there. it’s frightening and wonderful at the same time. and as soon as you begin to truly enjoy every freeing aspect of it you are strapped to an apartment, an office and a pilates class, enjoy it my dear, beautiful, amazing woman friend. i love you, d i know i owe you an email, it’s coming...
29th June 2006

Home coming
Erica. this may sound corny but true. Remember the old saying,'home is where the heart is"
1st July 2006

Beverly Jooo-leye 8?
I think the deep south part of your family may be attending the family reunion - any chance you'll be there (we hope!)?
2nd July 2006

home is nowhere
Hi Erica, Very well-written piece, and I have been there many times. Traveling away for long periods does make one a person without a REAL home. Sorry we didn't connect when you were in NYC, it would have been great to see you! Funny, my trip back from GA in June I felt the first time coming back to NYC that I was coming HOME. So it will turn around for you when you are in one place for awhile.
5th July 2006

students, abroad
just to harken back to your previous blog for a moment. front page globe last week ran an article on "public spirited" high school students from affluent comunities who are invited to volunteer on service trips to third world countries to help the needy. cost to the student is $4,000. but besides the experience it also offers a leg up in the college admissions process. now regarding the present blog...home is where ever you are but you are definitely new york, you just felt displaced because you are displaced. temporarily!happy 4th of july! xo
5th July 2006

french lessons.....
Erica....loved your piece....and's the French??????? ML
11th July 2006

drunk blonde
no, not me... i had some issues with your most recent blog. first of all, i know you did not refer to our NYC as the "dirty city." i prefer to describe the heaps of garbage bags as "atmospherics." second, i know where you were staying while in town, and magellan himself would get lost trying to find the one store (and one well disguised bar). third, that blonde waitress was obviously drunk (i know, i am an expert). finally, "home" is anywhere you are loved. so NYC is your home (among many). miss you and i hope to see you at home again soon.
14th July 2006

smart blonde
jill you are one very smart blonde (and pretty too) : ) love your comments!
17th July 2006

etc from dad
i read your blog re nyc--it has the punch of a raymond chandler's detective story. anyway all is well here. the pinic was a success even though cousin bob and his kids, verg and his group and pauline, carol and the medford group didn't make it. there were a ton of kids running around a matt's wife had a baby a couple of days later. it was a nice day of idle chat with all the kids. i brought some wine and all sampled the product, however, i didn't bring enough and quickly ran out. we are bracing for a hot spell--90's or better for the next week or so--it will definitly help the garden. there is a critter eating the lettuce and the leaves of the other plants so i put out a trap to try to catch the bastard--no luck so far. rich and emma are in brooklyn this weekend looking for an apartment and bringing some of her school stuff to her job. i am sure your mother will fill in the details of a wine tasting party we are planning to have on 7/31. all the people from the office and their mates will attend and of course harry's new squeeze. we will taste my wine and i will get some additional bottles from ray--it sould be fun. well, it time to start cooking dinner. luv u dad.
17th July 2006

some truth here and there
comment on Dad's comment: Is it possible to ever possible to bring enough wine to a family outing? comment on Erica's blog: OK, the apt is not easy to find, it's true. it's how we keep tourists out of my 'hood. :) xx
18th July 2006

Unk and I will not be attending the wine tasting.( unks eye surgery) Does that mean that they will have extra wine?

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