Jackhammers pound belligerently in the distance. Taxi drivers beep by way of conversation with pedestrians and other drivers. The occassional wail of a siren or the insistent honking of a fire truck breaks out, cabbies slow to move out of the way. And beneath it all, the undercurrent, when all the other noises conspire to cease for a blessed minute, the rush and hum of Manhattan rises up from the island and filters into my 29th floor apartment.
New York. New York! This trip has been so incredible, so enjoyable (apart from that slight touch of appendicitis) and so easy, really - that I find myself feeling more relaxed than I have in a long time, despite the hubbub. I realised yesterday that I haven't felt worried about anything in my personal life since I've been here. And for me, a chronic worrier from the time I achieved self-consiousness about age 4, that has been an incredible respite from my usual way of being.
I'm still a little lazy, quite vague and dreamy, and prone to pessimism when things don't go my way, but these last 12 months have been quite a journey for me. Sorry to get all self-help on your asses - and believe me, America is the place for self help, whether by drugs, books, drugs, television, therapy or more drugs - but I am in a very good place at the moment and can't remember ever having enjoyed myself more.
As I said to my mum on the phone this morning, this trip has been the highlight of my life so far. Seriously. I know that sounds dramatic, but really, it has! All my other travels, wonderous and amazing as they have been, have been ever so slightly tarnished by worry niggling around my edges. Here in New York, with the practicalities taken care of by my work and the knowledge that this is a temporary state aleviating my need to worry incessantly about the future - I feel totally immersed in my pure enjoyment of this great city. Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, eating burgers and drinking milkshakes, seeing broadway shows and going to lots of gigs - indulgence and entertainment have become my way of life over here, and unhealthy as that may turn out to be (physically or spiritually), I am enjoying being me, being here now, more than ever.
Even the prospect of returning to London isn't bothering me at this point. Come back to me in a few weeks and you might find a somewhat different story (no one changes that much, after all) - but right now, I feel serene and bouyant and lucky. It's a very good feeling.
Apologies for the gushing. It's possible karma will decree that I get mugged as soon as I leave the building.