So no one told you life was gonna be this way

I’ve spent the vast majority of my working life employed by American banks, and we lived in the US for a couple of years over 20 years ago. We’ve been lucky enough to make some lifelong friends along the way, and New York is a good place to catch up with some of them.

I reached out to Joe, a former boss, to see if he was available for beer or coffee and he immediately provided the expected answer: beer. He had a lunch meeting in the city, so we arranged to meet him in a bar afterwards. This gave us the chance to do some shopping to replace some of the worn-out clothes we now have in our possession.

A native New Yorker probably wouldn’t have Macy’s as a first choice shopping option but over the years they have provided me with a great deal of clothing at prices far lower than I would pay in the UK. We acquired a Metrocard and leapt on to the B train at Grand St to 34th St/Herald Square, exiting the station at the front doors of what used to be the world’s largest department store, now overtaken by a Chinese competitor. We spent a happy hour or so browsing the various departments to fulfil our requirements. As Ishbel said afterwards, that’s probably the first time we have ever left Macy’s empty handed.

Despite the shopping disappointment, we headed back down to hipster central on the Lower East Side to keep our date with Joe. I had identified a bar called Marshall Stack as the perfect option, since it was reputed to have craft beers and a great jukebox. Sadly, it hadn’t opened by the time we were due to meet do I hastily researched an alternative and came up with Lucky Jack’s.  Fortunately, it served some great beers and played an excellent soundtrack of 70s and 80s mostly British bands. It was great getting the chance to catch up and Joe kindly gave us a couple of gifts from Chatham NJ, the town where we had lived all those years ago. The beers were quite strong, so the rest of Tuesday was fairly quiet and relaxed.

On the subway on Tuesday, we had been attracted by a poster for the NY Transit Museum, publicising a photo exhibit on the “subway reef“. Many of New York’s decommissioned subway cars have been dumped in the ocean, creating an artificial reef. Now that we’re divers, we decided we wanted to see this, so we planned our journey out to the museum in Brooklyn for Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, we stopped by Rudy’s to check on Ishbel’s dobro and were told that the repair was all good, but a little lacquer had chipped off at the point of the repair. They had put a couple of drops in to fix that and we could collect it as soon as it was dry. Since we were in Soho anyway, we made like Duke Ellington and took the A train over to Jay St in Brooklyn, from where we walked to the Transit Museum. The museum was fascinating and covered the construction of the various subway lines, the different companies who ran them, their integration, and the challenges of mapping the system. They also had a collection of subway cars through the ages tat you could walk through. Well worth a visit.

Sadly, however, no exhibit on the Subway Reef. It pays to read the small print on posters. The photos were on show in the Museum Annex. No problem, we thought. “Where’s the annex?” we asked.

“Grand Central Station,” came the somewhat surprising reply. We weren’t going to be seeing that today. We decided to take a walk down to the East River (which isn’t a river), and see the Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn side, for a change.


We couldn’t get a coffee by the waterfront because of the huge number of tourists here. This area, now known as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) has been gentrified out of all recognition since we lived in the New Jersey suburbs. In those days, no tourist who valued their security would wander around here. Times change.

We headed back to Jay St and caught an F train to Delancey so we could freshen up before tonight’s date with old friends. When we lived here, I worked for a company called Bankers Trust and made some amazing friends with whom I have kept in touch over the years and we always try to meet up when I’m in NY or they are in the UK. We had arranged to meet a few of them for dinner this evening. We once again walked over to Soho and met them at an excellent Italian restaurant called Adoro Lei. The food here was excellent and the company delightful.

The wonderful thing about great friends is that you may not see them for a few years but as soon as you meet again, you pick up right where you left off. That’s what it’s like with these guys. Knowing people like that is a great and lifelong joy.

After dinner and extended reminiscences, we headed back to our apartment. New York always seems familiar because the entire city seems like a film set. We’ve seen it so often on our tv and movie screens that it fees like home. Tonight, we found that it was home. Our route to our apartment was blocked by a film crew shooting a scene for a TV show called Pose. At first, I only noticed that there seemed to be a lot of 70s cars parked in the street.


But the strange pink lighting should have been a giveaway.

We didn’t hang around and found a route past the shoot to get to our apartment and a much needed sleep.


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