Maybe it was the shabby guitar cases. Maybe news had spread of our final triumphant gig in Norfolk. Or perhaps the nice British Airways agent had heard about Swindon, and felt sorry for us. However it happened, we were upgraded on our flight home. Not to super first or even business but fully ahead of the curtain in roomy, comfy seats with the little bag that has socks and things in it.
It was good to get some rest on the plane because when we got back to a freezing house it was immediately tax return hell for a few days. But it was good to be home.
I was expecting trees and bushes in bloom but it had been as cold and miserable in New York as in England. The first nice day was Monday, when we drove to the city to meet up with Sara, the ace accountant who helped me with my tax debacle a few years back.
The trip down the Taconic was smooth, the city was gleaming, and we scored a parking place good for three days if we'd wanted it. Ate a good quick lunch and grabbed a cab (why is it people always "grab" taxis? I don't know, but I ride in taxis so rarely, I want the full experience). I think the brief taxi ride is the moment where I can't help noticing things have changed, we're remarking on this TV blaring from the back of the driver's seat. It's been almost fifteen years since I lived in the city and I better accept that I don't automatically slot back in to place on return.
Down the steps to Sara's place and we emerge from the appointment with more work to do, more receipts to dredge up. A bright spot is seeing Pat Place on the way out - she was one of the coolest guitarists in the city back when and like seeing Sara who I've known since my college days, it gives some sense of continuity - a 'we're still here dammit" boost.
Although I'm not "still here" really. Back out on the street, Eric and I go for coffee in one of those high-tech, almost laboratory-like places at the corner of 7th Avenue and Greenwich and I'm looking out the window at scores of blandly gorgeous young people in their first warm day finery and I feel like we should be doing something fabulous or classic, walk in the park, museum, meet up with somebody but who - it's the middle of the day and we've been on the road for so long. After one coffee I say to Eric "I wish I could think of something I want to do in the city, but I really just want to go home."
He understands and we give that perfect parking place to the lucky vulture who swoops down almost before I can pull out of the spot and drive up the west side, admiring the tall buildings and people, but it isn't until we hit the Thruway around the Kingston exit, the sun coming down behind the Catskill mountains that I relax.
It's good to be home.