New York ~ 4.13.16
1:07AM. I was wrong. I thought I’d arrived in New York when I saw Park Avenue and the woman walking into the plastic surgery office.
It was tonight I realized I had arrived in New York. Spontaneous as usual…I wanted to experience live jazz in a New York jazz club. At the end of another unbelievably, preposterously, ridiculously magical day…I told my friend David that I wanted to go to the Village Vanguard club where all the jazz greats have played for nearly a century. Tonight was The Scott Colley Quartet. It’s a basement club, small, intimate, dark, red, black, pictures of jazz greats who have played there on the walls. Apple martini on my table, second drink of the night for a girl who rarely drinks, but when in Rome…
We stayed both sets…mindblowing. This particular version of his quartet has only played together twice. So incredibly blown away by their chemistry. And I know chemistry being a jazz pianist myself having played for years in bands and combos, even traveling as a teenager to play in the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague. I’ve met many of my jazz idols, autographs of many, as well. I miss playing with a group, but seeing them tonight filled my heart and soul in such rich ways. They will be recording their first album in June. I absolutely cannot wait.
This was the nightcap to the end of a day I could not have predicted. Breakfast at my new favorite cafe, Maman…roasted red pepper quiche, and a Nutella beignet, with chai to drink. Then off to try to get down to the 9/11 Memorial. I finally got on a train going in the wrong direction, but it took me five days, so I’m proud of that. Plus, it wasn’t my fault, the cops gave me the wrong directions. I forgive them, they were cute.
I made it down to the North and South Pools for the 9/11 Memorial. It’s hard to explain the feeling. At first it was, “Yup, that’s where they were, wow.” Almost like it is too overwhelming to process the catastrophe and disaster that happened that day. I watched it all unfold at the time live on television, and sobbed with every part of me at the massive loss of life and grieving of families. Here, seeing the pools, it’s unreal. It’s truly unreal. But, interesting thing happened. I wandered around, strolling slowly, gazing at the other people there who were also in their own mental states of mind, made a point to look up, to sense the height of the towers when they were standing, what that day was like before, during and after the attack, thought of the people leaping to their deaths on a beautiful September day, very much like the day we had in New York today…and then it starts to hit you…it starts to sink in, that reality. The memories of that day, even from Seattle on the other side of the country…very strong. And the individual stories you remember, the images of people dying, the phone calls they played on the news of those in the towers knowing this was the end. It all comes rushing back. Forget? Not possible.
After a failed attempt to catch the boat to the Statue of Liberty, as we got there too late, apparently, we opted to head uptown so I could see David’s apartment in Harlem. But, being David…it’s never what it seems. He takes us out of the subway smack dab in the heart of Harlem. And I’ll never forget walking out of the subway, very very clearly the minority, tons of bustling, vibrant, loud people of varying ethnicities, primarily African-American, Hispanic…and then there was rainbow me. White rainbow me.
We walked along the length of 125th Street toward David’s neighborhood. There is no other experience I can relate it to. We were obviously the minority, and I kind of liked that feeling. Some looks, but probably at my hair more than the fact that we were white, no issues, did not feel unsafe, in fact, I felt more unsafe in Costa Rica. This culture is rich, so much history, struggle, nothing that a white person from Seattle could possibly grasp, but I can appreciate it, and I did for the short time I was there.
Suddenly, I see the Apollo Theater in front of me…David saying,”I was wondering how long it would take for you to notice that.” Again, being his sneaky self, knew exactly what he was doing. THE Apollo Theater, people. Look it up, if it doesn’t ring a bell.
Two more surprises left for me. The first was that David’s apartment is literally directly across the street from the last church in which Martin Luther King, Jr. led a sermon before he was killed. Wow. And then on our way out of dinner down by the river for kickass barbecue…I suddenly notice we are passing The Cotton Club. THE Cotton Club, people. Look it up, if it doesn’t ring a bell.
From there we found jazz, and now it’s past bedtime. Tomorrow is another day. Another attempt at the Statue, the 9/11 Museum, and if I can squeeze it in…The Empire State Building at sunset.
In my life, all things are possible, workable, and within reach. This trip is no exception. It will be maximized.
Sweet dreams from the Big Apple.