I was re-visiting my old New York photo album on my hard drive and stumbled upon this photo that I took of the city’s skyline. I was reminded of the time when I deliberately wander without any set plans or directions in the Big Apple. It was a cold December day, only a few days shy of new year’s eve. I traversed from the Upper East Side down to Chelsea, in hopes of finding something different from the sophisticated facade of the city. I guess I don’t deal well with too much prim and properness, even if I thought I could. After a while, I noted that I’m intrigued by something more organic and raw yet balanced.
I was all excitement when the cab driver dropped me off in front of an art gallery, which name has, unfortunately, left me yonks ago. I was a gallery virgin at that time, so it took me a few head tilts and awkward smiles before I finally was at ease with my surroundings. Thank God the gallery staff were not at all judgemental*.
A few galleries later, I finally arrived at the Chelsea Market. I was instantly in love with the place. From homemade aprons to purposeful art installations, mocha nougats to freshly caught seafood sandwiches, trinkets and gizmos; the place spells warmth all over it. I waited and waited, trying to store everything that I saw into my brain and just immerse in the ambiance. A guy came and set up what looked like a small set of cymbals, followed by a snare drum and a mini bass drum. Dressed in a pair blue jeans, a camel-coloured suit, and a fedora hat, he didn’t look at all like a musician, let alone a drummer. I was skeptical. Or maybe I was THAT clueless. But then he started to croon some jazz tunes while hitting the drums. ‘That makes more sense‘, I thought to myself. He asked me if I had any song requests. I shook my head, saying, “Just not any more Christmas songs**”. He laughed. I moved on.
I decided to go back to the hotel since I was due for dinner soon after. When I got out of the market, I was gobsmacked by this view of the sunset. It was by far the most memorable sunset that I have ever had instilled in my mind. My camera died literally just after I took a picture of it. The photo that I took really didn’t do the scene any justice. I stopped walking, wishing that I could somewhat freeze time, and just enjoy the beautiful view in front of me. I think that was the first time I fell in love with vivid, purple skies. Chasing sunsets have been a never ending pursuit ever since.
Five years have now passed since then. I miss that feeling, that sense of wonder and excitement that you get when you trail onto the unknown field. All the jitters when you could not find an empty cab to get to your next destination, the happiness when you were served a warm delicious Middle Eastern grub from a street stall on a very very cold winter night, that connection with people that you chat with at random.
I think a solo travel is way overdue.
*P.S. Or maybe they were, but they were just that polite.
**P.P.S. I have no hatred towards Christmas songs. In fact, I love it. But at that time, I felt that listening to any more Christmas songs was too overwhelming since that was literally everyone’s play list, everywhere. Like, literally.