I've memorized the instructions Bernard gave me to get to his apartment. But I don't understand the automated MetroPass stands, and I don't realize that the Long Island Railroad is a separate entity with separate ticketing, except at that one point in the airport you can buy all those things in one go. I get busted on the train and have to pay a way higher rate to the conductor. Bernard sends me a text asking if I've arrived, and my phone doesn't allow me to respond. I have loads of stairs and subway turnstiles to drag my suitcase and bags through. I'm really glad I didn't bring the banjo. New York is muggy as hell. It reminds me of Hong Kong.
I climb out of the designated subway stop and manage to find the street. It's pretty, quiet. The stone steps with the heavy banisters remind me of Sesame Street. I find the building number. There is someone coming down the stairs, so I stand back to make way with my luggage. But the person stops midstep. I look at him through the glass, and he looks at me, and I imagine my expression matched his, inquisitive, friendly, vague recognition, familiar but entirely unfamiliar. A faint smile creeps up, and he holds the door open. It's Bernard.
Bernard carries my suitcase up the five flights of stairs, which I think should earn him enough karma points to find enlightenment by his next life if not the end of this one, and proceeds to show me around, spewing out a wealth of information about the city. He has to leave tomorrow morning to go back to work, this time flying to Oklahoma City. I hang around him in the apartment like a lost puppy dog as he's packing, trying to absorb all the information he's given me, fearful that I'll forget some important piece of information essential to my survival and the welfare of his apartment. "If you need any help, just call or email me," he says. "Even if you're lost, give me a call, tell me what the cross streets are, I can probably help you out." And so in this way, after hanging out with him for perhaps a total of 6 hours in person, Bernard becomes my virtual tour guide during my entire stay.