Thursday, October 19, 2006


When I was a student I backpacked all around Europe alone, interrailing, bussing, even hitchhiking (though not alone). No one ever commented - when you are 20 and alone it is ok to travel far and wide. Now at 38 with a little baby things are different it seems. Women don't travel alone at 38 and certainly not with a baby. The first to point this out to me were my beloved, overprotective parents - mum emailed after a glass of wine or 2 'why are you doing this to us - you are freaking us out!' sweet! :-) But it continued at the check-in in Glasgow airport - the horrified desk worker inquired if I was meeting relative in NY. No, I am flying to Manhattan to spend 4 days walking about taking nice photos of my baby, I intend to go up a few sky scrapers, eat some nice food and then hear Streisand sing! I replied - the look was incredulity. On arrival in Manhattan I stuck out my hand to stop a little blue minibus marked Airport-Hotel transfers, the driver helped me my rucksack and my buggy (sorry stroller) on and then waited with the engine idling. I asked if we had to wait till all 9 seats were full before going as only Pudge and I were aboard. Oh aren't you with someone? he asked - I was waiting for your husband! Then I went out for my first walk - I walked in the general direction Times Square, on my way I passed Grand Central Station. At Times Square someone stopped me and asked for directions to Grand Central Station! I gave them, having just come from there. A second person stopped and asked the same 2 minutes later and so the pattern started - 10 times a day I was stopped and asked for directions all around Manhattan because a woman alone walking the streets of Manhattan can't be a tourist she can only be a local! I was puzzled that the rules for men and women were still different even in the noughties but I was also secretly quite proud that I looked so at home, at ease and confident that even the locals assumed I was a local :-) Because of this I found Manhattan a wholly unthreatening place, I walked about even after dark, though sensibly, and as I merged into obscurity among the other 8 million inhabitants and no doubt several million tourists, I felt like I had come home. All my life I wanted to visit New York, I had taken 9/11 as a personal attack as if they had done it to Glasgow and not New York. In a way I was scared to visit in case it turned out not to be the home I had felt it to be from a distance. Dreams have a way of disappointing you, but this was one dream that lived up to and surpassed my expectations. In a way going there alone probably reinforced the feeling of home because home is the most obvious place to spend time totally alone. NY I LOVE YOU :-)


The Scudder said...

Let me just tell you ,,,,
Even at 20 ( were you that old ? ) you FREAKED OUT your overprotective parents when you swanned off to Le Continent !!

The Scudder said...

We are obviously different, you and I ,,, I always get that feeling of being HOME when I land on Skye or Islay ! Same sort of Pop. figures as NYC ,, but with a few noughts less ,.,.,.instead of 8,000,000 in the naked city, you might think in terms of maybe 8,000 (Skye) or 800 (Islay),,!!

The Scudder said...

But that doesn't include the sheep of course !!