Friday, July 05, 2013

I Am A Million Years Old

All those years ago
You said it all though not many had ears
All those years ago
You had control of our smiles and our tears
All those years ago - George Harrison, "All Those Years Ago" 1981

Me to New York friend: "I saw that it was 120 degrees on the West Coast"
New York friend: "But I don't live on the West Coast."

"That break-up text can wait." - Poster from NYC's Safe Pedestrian campaign

The countdown - 13 seconds to cross

After a tough week, a bad news week, Egypt, the 19 firemen killed in the Arizona bush/wild fires, the travesty of the trial of George Zimmerman - the guy who shot a young black teenager through the heart because he "thought" he might be up to something - after the heat, the dog days of the first week of July in Manhattan ...

I turned on the tellie and flicked through my "favorites" channel. What was this?  "Four Hundred Blows" - the title rang a bell. Je me souvenais. Of course. The 1959 Truffaut movie. Or should I be PC à la Melbourne and say, "film".

Could it be so long ago? Over half a century?  Yes, although 1959 France probably equates to 1968 Melbourne, OZ.

And as is the case when you are a million years old, I started to reminisce. Back to just three months ago.

When I was in my home town of Melbourne. Trotters restaurant in Carlton April 2013. A four-of-us reunion. As I regarded my three friends, the wrinkles, the gray hair - all signs of age - faded away, and we were all - or at least for me - our 1969 selves - still cultured after all these years - well as cultured as one could be, in Melbourne in 1969.

The countdown - 5 seconds to cross

We'd come a long way. We exchanged memories over a wine - well those of us who could still drink - had wine. "Do you ever hear from P?" one of my friends asked. I paused and took a gulp of my riesling.

"P" and I had been lovers in 1969. And for twenty years or so, occasional correspondents as we moved  partners and continents.

And then some years ago we had "fallen out".

"No," I replied. "He doesn't like me anymore. I wrote about how I had just pretended to understand those French movies with sub-titles that we'd watched together in the sixties." "Not just Truffaut," I added.  "I didn't understand any of them, I just pretended."

"Didn't we all!" my friend exclaimed. "All those Bergman movies we sat through;  no one knew what they meant!"

I was relieved. So it wasn't just me. The other three nodded in agreement.

I was vindicated. Well if you can call being vindicated, having three million-old people in Trotters restaurant, Carlton, OZ agreeing with you.

And now I am back. Far away from Melbourne, back in the" land of me" - New York.

I love New York. Who couldn't? In New York I can watch Truffaut films without having to pretend to understand them. In New York I don't have to have empathy, to worry about what other people think. I take that back - yes one is meant to worry about other people, as long as they are a long long way away, like in Egypt, and then ... why worry about them?

I love the heat, the all-consuming dog day heat of Manhattan. I love Al Pacino, and on days like today where the heat steams off the cracked, unmaintained pavements, I can almost pretend I am where I should be. I don't have to pretend anymore. Who cares about French movies? Who cares about Egypt. Who cares about climate change? Well of course we all do. But as my friend at our lunch in Trotters, Carlton explained, "that doesn't mean we have to understand it." And even if I did care, there is no one to talk to about it to in New York anyway.

I love New York. And especially I love how it constantly surprises. Just when you think things can't get any worse, like it was for Dustin Hoffman in "Marathon Man", yes it can.

ASIF it wasn't hard enough getting around in this city, ASIF we aren't rushed enough, trying to get done in a New York minute what would take only one second anywhere else in this world ... the mayor or whoever runs this place has installed count-downs at intersections.

So instead of the pedestrian lights indicating 'Walk' or "Don't Walk", with little amber flickers as they change, we now have a countdown. The red "Don't Walk" sign changes to a number - '20', '10' - '0' - '8' - '7' and so on. Till zero.

Being a law-abiding kinda gal, I am suitably stressed.

Who can be thinking of Truffaut, of how it is so hot in Arizona, or how there is tumult in Egypt? After all, we aren't there.

N'est ce pas?

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