Thursday, May 19, 2011

Well Mr Burns had done, the power plant had won it.

I waited as long as I could. My bag was under the bus, and I stood outside until 1:29 much to the annoyance of the driver. The girls were still too far away, and when the engine turned over I knew I wouldn't get to see them before we both left America. It was a sad end to Hyannis - a place that had been brilliantly relaxing.

The bus charged through the inclement weather (which has since followed me) and once in Boston I was met by Dicky Peach. We walked through downtown and into a McDonalds where Ruby and Jen were with Alex. I had missed out on saying bye to some friends earlier that day, but got to spend a bit more  time with others who I didn't think I'd see again for a while. With all my gear still being carted around, we walked all over downtown, stopping for a go on the slides in Boston Common and a tea at Starbucks - hipster to the max. By the time we jumped on a bus for John's house, I was spent from the weight I had carried throughout the afternoon, and a seat had rarely felt like such a luxury.

When we got to John's house he was out the back barbecuing with his friend. Casa de Lopez is in Chelsea, a suburb of Boston that he once described as the ghetto. I tend to disagree, and was more than happy to be put up by him in his house. His hospitality was second to none, and even after spending $70 on meat, he still managed to find some food for me to eat. His mum even offered up a few of her Colombian specialties (even though she had just arrived back from there on the day) and the whole experience was fantastic. It's one thing to stay in a hostel in the city, but spending a few nights with such a generous and hospitable family with mates is something completely different, and very refreshing.

A night of Fifa ended with John making weird noises and Peach having to sleep next to me despite my snoring. It wasn't all bad for him though, the next day we saw him off as he got a flight to Vegas with Max. If all goes well we'll all meet up in Nashville, with Dicky Peach planning his arrival by private jet.

While he was off making money in a way he felt was best, Alex and I met up with Ruby and Jen at Harvard Square. I'd been to Boston a few times before, and only over these last few days did I get to experience more of it than downtown. The Cambridge area is beautiful, and though walking around parts of the garden are as close to Harvard as I'll get, it's still a nice place to be. To think, Facebook, the greatest time theft in the world was born in the same area I got to tread around in left me starstruck.

Ruby drove us around the city for the afternoon, and in the evening we walked from one end of the downtown to Fenway Park. The rain continued to fall in a mist that was not enough to soak you, but enough to leave you damp, cold and constantly wiping away at your face. Being student plebs, we had standing room tickets, only the ones for Alex and John were different to the ones the girls and I had.

Even with the rain falling, there was still enough of a crowd to fill the standing room areas. One security guard had let me into the same area as Alex and John, but the girls were stuck downstairs. We watched the game from our separate areas, with the wind in the upper pavillion cutting through my clothing and skin and freezing my bones. It's the middle of May, but it was a cold a winter's night as I have dealt with at home.

The Red Sox are a team I grew to laugh at. Their fans are rampant at UMass, with hats and shirts never being far from the line of sight. Without much baseball experience, I had no major allegiances to any teams (except the Mets, read on). Still, the sheer amount of baseball caps, and the fact that games at bars were turned off when the team was losing was enough to turn me off the Red Sox. In their game against Baltimore, I was rooting for the Orioles - partly due to the fact that their fluoro orange bird cap is awesome.

Like every game I'd seen this season, the Sox were losing and were down by six at one point. I was taking great pleasure in this, and despite being outnumbered and getting dirty glances from John, I cheered on as the Orioles attemtped to extend their lead. Only they didn't. The crowd got more and more involved, and the oldest stadium in baseball began to come alive. The lead was slowly chipped away, and any fans who sought refuge from the cold earlier missed a great finish.

This fella had just hit a home run.

In the final innings, Adrian Gonzalez hit a double, and it was enough for the Sox to win, and for the stadium to erupt. I wasn't happy at the result - but I was happy to be in such a sporting institution, and beautiful stadium as the famed fans celebrated a memorable win. I'm sure there are a bunch of diehards who would have given their left nut to be at that game, yet here I was, a baseball rookie who didn't like the winning team occupying their space.

Plans to visit Lowell the next day fell apart when the rain never ended. I had wanted to see the place where Jack Kerouac grew up, and where he now spends the rest of his days. Having spent so long in Massachusetts, it would have been great to get there, but not doing so has given me another reason to come back. That said, I finally left the state, not knowing when I'll next be back.

John and Alex escorted me (via a burrito stop) to South Station for the last time. We shook hands, and once I boarded the bus that was it. Massachusetts had been good to me, and while I loved getting away and seeing other parts of this country, I was more than happy to return. I'm proud to say I've spent part of my life living there, and with the history of the place, the seasons, and the people, part of me has been won over by it.

After four hours, where the rain poured and sunroof of the bus changed from a depressing gray to a bleak black. I didn't even know when we had crossed the border, but the rain continued to pour as the bus drove down from the Bronx to midtown Manhattan in what will be my last stop here for a while. I've loved every second I've spent in this city, and a bit of water is not going to change any of that.

Try as he might, some Irishman did try to ruin my experience here though. My original accommodation was shut down last week, and after a bit of a scramble I opted for one of the cheaper beds in town on 105th st. It was all going well, and I despite feeling exhausted I lay on a couch reading a book for a few hours as the rain continued to pour. At some point in the night the Irish guy came upstairs to the kitchen and pissed out the window. Whatever. I've pissed in worse spots, only he had climbed four flights of stairs to do it and stumbled all through the hallway.

He came and went throughout the night, and at one stage his friend from Uruguay had tried to put this drunkard to bed. He took exception to this sign of goodwill, and preceded to give the guy a hard time, and offered to knock his teeth down his throat. The one-sided aggressiveness continued for about 15 minutes, and he did his best to provoke the guy as best he could. I remained on the couch the whole time, watching this arsehole dig himself into more trouble. I felt bad for being passive the whole time, but I'm not a fighter, nor am I big enough to break up any altercation. All I could do was sit back and make sure nothing drastic happened - cowardly as it is.

As I was about to go to bed the guy finally snapped, and as the Uruguayan lad made his best efforts to head outside and avoid trouble the Irishmen threw punches at him as his back was turned and did his best to spit on him. Drunk as he was, it was still the act of an arsehole of the highest order. He apologised to me for making noise but I cared little for what he said. I shut my door, yet through it I could hear him arguing with the hostel's owners and himself until I eventually went to sleep.

He awoke the next day, and instead of going downstairs to apologise and check out he just left. From punching a guy with his back turned to running from his mistake, he proved a coward until the end. While he was off looking for a place to stay, I grabbed my things and walked 10 or so blocks until my next bed for the night. My bags were dropped off, and with the sun beginning to fight its way through the clouds, I headed across the park for lunch, before returning to 5th avenue and heading to the Met.

It was the last of the big galleries that I had been to, and some nice man from Birmingham saw me in the line and offered me his entry token so that I could get in for free and stick it to the man. Once past security and with $20 still in my pocket, I walked into the Egyptian area. Finally, I was able to feel young again.

The Met is an absolutely massive place. Hallways seemed never ending, and countless rooms shot off each of them. It felt like I was in a museum, and after 30 minutes of Egyptian artifacts, I felt it best to grab a map and finally see what I wanted. There was a trek through the ages, as Egypt turned to middle Europe and early America. Finally, I was at a section where I could recognise some of the names.

When the works of Hopper weren't making me feel inadequate, my attention turned to the glass roof above and the rain that was now pouring down. Again, the sun had lost its battle to the clouds, and they were doing their best to celebrate by drenching the city. I spent another hour or so walking around, trying to kill time in the musical instrument and photography sections. I must have spent about four hours at the place, but due to its size only seen a 3rd of the collection. The way the rooms are set out and designed, it's hard to believe you're in the middle of New York City at times, they've such a brilliant job of recreating different times.

Danzig would sacrifice so many tiny animals to play this.

When I did eventually leave, I was greeted by the downpour, and even on my last pair of clean clothes, I simply had to brave the water for the next 10 blocks. I made it back to the hostel, nervously checked my grades (a D+ for journalism!) and turned around and headed to Queens to see the Mets play.

The last baseball cap I bought was a Mets one four years ago. A gypsy had since stolen that one while I  was in Rome, but that was enough for me to say I supported the Mets. They are New York's underdogs, and they won a World Series the year I was born, what more could you look for in an adopted sporting team?
86 World Series

The train rolled above Queens, going past the site of the World's Fair before the small crowd walked through the rain into Citifield. It's lovely to compare the oldest stadium in baseball to one of the newest, and Citifield really is a fantastic place to watch sports. There was just enough coverage from the rain, and every so often aeroplanes from La Guardia would fly over, offering a beautiful distraction from the game.

The rain poured and poured. There was a delay every innings as the ground staff attempted to fix some puddles, and in the wet and cold, any delay became painful. The Mets won what was a fairly scrappy game. The stadium was fairly empty due to the weather, but there was still enough of an atmosphere to make it a great night. It felt good to finally have a team to cheer for, and at Citifield, where cheap seats are still good seats, I began to really appreciate why American's love baseball so much. Until the last few nights I would have said America's favourite past time is yelling at people from moving cars, but now my mind is beginning to change.

Tom Petty - You Wreck Me
Because the only thing more American than baseball is Tom Petty.

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