NYC Moment

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Ellen's picture

Sitting in Java Detour on 3rd ave sipping a mocha. No wifi! But at least they had a bathroom. That was the priority. Starbucks down the way had a wifi, but no bathroom. I forgot that about Starbucks in Manhattan. They are so tiny they barely have room for a table and a bar, let a lone a customer bathroom.

Envoy Club was unusual but nice enough. Pretty cheap for an apartment with kitchenette and dining nook, sitting area as well as bed with good mattress and and plenty of closet space and a desk. The lighting was insufficient, though. The desk had no lamp. You can move the bedside lamp to the desk, I suppose. When I closed the blinds and urned off the lights and went to bed, I could still see the stream of light from the buildings around me. Ah! NYC! The city that never sleeps! I forgot about the eternal night light. But it didn't bother me. I fell asleep instantly and slept for an hour before my usual pattern of wakefulness started. But I slept soundly for about 5 hours, I think. Didn't want to get up right away b3ecause I knew it would be a long wait until boarding the Queen Mary 2. And I didn't have a definite plan yet. I finally rose at 8:00am after doing a bit of yoga. By the time I showered and dressed and repacked it was almost 10:00am.

After a breakfast of an egg-n-cheese bagel at a small cafe I strolled down 3rd avenue in the general direction of the Manhattan Pier. I figured I'd find a place where I could spread out and write and perhaps get an Internet connection and start uploading pictures and blogs, and connect to my email.

I feel like a fish out of water, but as I spend more time here on the street, talking to New Yorkers, I'm getting back into the groove. I've spent a bunch of time here, almost always in the pursuit of information and inspiration for my writing. This trip it isn't much different. I am not pursuing research on the Broadway scene of days gone by as I have done before to benefit my understanding of the life of Mary Coyle Chase (whose biography I set on the back burner about six years ago due to frustration over access to family information), but I am here to begin a longer journey, a more in-depth journey into the past of twelfth-century France. I feel the same sense of independence, excitement and wonder at my ability to be here, on my own, no holds barred, going in a direction I would not have expected even a year ago. Not only am I traveling on my own, which I am loathe to do under normal circumstances, I am cruising on the Queen Mary 2, the luxury liners of all luxury liners, across the Atlantic. There will be formal balls and fine dining. There will be spas and hot tubs. Such hedonism for a middle-class country girl from Upstate New York. I have trouble seeing why I derserve such a vacation when my husband is content to be at home, building furniture, working full-time as a software engineer, and tending the garden.

The kicker is that I am also flying across the United States and the Atlantic, and booking passage in cars. I will be driving one in Burgundy, France. These activities have become anathenma to my adopted philosophy of minimizing my impact on the earth. Fortunately, most of my journey will be by train. I am looking forward to enjoying my EuroRail Pass in France, Germany, and Spain.

I don't know how it happened. One day, we were sitting having dinner with friends on the patio of one of our favorite restaurants in Longmont, Sugarbeet, and I knew. Yes, I had had a couple glasses of wine and was high on the delectable sauces and savories of the Sugarbeet chef, but it became clear to me. My struggles with my current novel, Saving Eleanor, were getting me blue. Because most of the story took place in medieval France, it was presenting more challenges than previous novels I'd drafted. I could not put myself in the scene: in the cold stone castles or rustic villages along the Clain and Boivre Rivers. I was also unsure of character motivations. I thought, these are intertwined, not only do I need to get into my characters heads, I needed to get into the character of the medieval French countryside. I must go there. And I must do it with minimal impact to the environment. I would get passage on a transatlantic vessel, maybe a cargo ship!

It turned out that it made more sense to take the quickest journey across the Atlantic, on the QM2, in seven nights. It also made more sense for me to fly to NYC to meet the ship rather than train there (two days and much more expensive if I booked my usual sleeping compartment). And I allowed myself to do one transverse of the Atlantic by jet: on the way home when I knew I would be very weary after eight weeks abroad.

Eight weeks abroad! I cannot believe that is me! My brother Chris, after hearing my plans, put it in a nutshell: "You are traveling like the lady writers of yore" -- aboard an ocean liner and then by train. Taking the slow way through the world and absorbing it a slower pace than most people in the twenty-first century. And the fact isn't lost on me, either, that I am, as one of my writing buddies said, "You are time traveling to twelfth-century France, just like the characters in your book!"

Yep. I am time traveler. A space traveler. A traveler through human experience. Traversing my own mind, its perceptions and conclusions. It is the duty of any writer. I hope, ultimately, it is worth it to trample a bit on mother earth.
__________________________
Ellen
Ever learning, Everlasting