Bernard was sweet enough to buy some basic groceries for me before I came, as there isn't a good grocery store in his neighbourhood, insisting that I eat everything as he is likely to be gone for several weeks and everything will otherwise spoil. I found myself diving into several of his other staples though, so today I decided to make an expedition to Central Park about half an hour away, followed by a visit to a grocery store to replenish some other supplies.
Central Park is one of the few New York landmarks I have heard of, and I've heard people rave about how wonderful it is. But to me, it was just kind of blah. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great to have such a large green space in the city where you can actually get away from traffic noise and the sight of any buildings – in fact, not great, but essential. I guess that's it – to me it's like people are raving about an essential thing, like having a toilet. To wander far into the park, it just feels like that – I'm in a park with a huge pile of other people. I'm of course closer to nature than amid the traffic and concrete, but I don't feel that close to nature. It's a contrived, planned, manicured public park. It's too perfect. It's not really nature. I don't think I saw any bugs.
Of course I'm a snob about this. This is why I live where I do, and that's why I write bluegrass songs. So in my wanderings, I didn't bother going deep into the heart of the park, and instead enjoyed the juxtaposition at the edges of the green adjacent to the city.
Grocery stores are built in levels here, like department stores, with narrow escalators and signs demarcating what grocery items are on each level. It's a strange vibe, frenetic shopping for basic survival goods. It feels like being in a discount clothing store with people muscling around grabbing desperately at items, except it's food. There's a vaguely competitive feeling that I haven't felt in a grocery store before.
I walk back to the nearest subway stop with grocery bags in hand, and get asked for directions to the store I just left. I'm tickled to be able to give them. Especially because she sounded like a New Yorker. I know exactly where I'm going and take on the bored, languid air of a city resident who's just bringing home some groceries and toilet paper.