My first view of the city was as the plane began its descent, plummeting out of the roiling gray clouds that hugged the sky. And what a view it was. Hundreds and hundreds of buildings competing for their space in the sun, their spiky turrets and jagged edges reminding me of nothing so much as one of the lego cities my brother used to build.
Then we were on the ground and in the airport. Hundreds of people bustled to and fro, making the Indianapolis airport look like a ghost town in comparison.
Then, after being hustled by two Cicilian looking fellas wanting to drive me into the city, I got my cab—and my kind-faced, graying lady cab driver. She heaved my suitcase into the trunk (over my embarrassed objections) and got us on our way, spinning me the story of her life as she drove through Queens.
After teasing out what I do for a living, she told me she graduated from the Parsons School of Design. Wanted to be a jingle writer. But her mom got sick and her dad skipped out…and somewhere along the way, she became a cab driver instead. Her eyes lost her sparkle as she admitted that. But she still paints. Oils. Even exhibits them from time to time.
Soothed by the kindness in her voice and saddened by her story, I gave her what the scam driver at the airport had wanted me to pay—which amounted to a $20 tip for her.
Then it was out on to the busy streets, the smells of exhaust, sewers and cooking hot dogs mingling in my nose.
The people looked like people everywhere. Some in shorts, some in suits, and one horrifyingly badly dressed woman in a crop top and three-size-too-small jeans.
But there are a lot of good looking people here. More than are in the entire state of Indiana, I think. And the men? Actually know how to dress. The Bloomington male uniform of Old Navy ringer T and baggy shorts is nowhere in sight.
Meandering down Fifth Avenue, I window shopped to my heart’s content, trying on $200 dresses and even (mistakenly) a $300 cotton pullover. I repeatedly pulled out my credit card, only to put it away again, unused. It is only the first day. Wouldn’t do to spend all my cash so soon.
Then, it was time for dinner. A hot dog from a street vendor. I plopped myself down on a marble bench and dug into the bun full of processed goodness, watching the ever-changing flow of people wander by.
I pulled myself out of my trance when I noticed a man standing in front of me. He made up a poem for me, featuring my hair, my eyes, my outfit—even the Sunkist I was drinking. As a performance, it was impressive, and I felt bad that I couldn’t give him the $2 he was requesting.
All I had was $20s. And greedy me couldn’t convince myself to part with that much. Sigh.
Now I’m in my hotel room, showered and powdered and perfumed. Soon I’ll head over to the Hilton for the People’s Party…but first, I have to present myself at the conference check in and hangdoggedly admit I left my badge at home.
It seems you can take the girl out of the mess, but you can’t take the mess out of the girl.