Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Leaving New York

A friend who saw my pictures of Minnesota and New York, below, said they looked cold and lonely. It's certainly cold, and I think my vision is probably lonely (although as the inimitable Roddy Frame said , "they call us lonely when we're really just alone"). I've enjoyed many things about this trip. I liked Washington, if only for the novelty of the board games in my hotel (AKA rooming house, a shabby, glorified B&B presided over by a perpetually delighted Eastern European man with a shock of black hair and a disconcerting squint), with the White House just down the road, the sharp contrast of bitter cold and blazing sunshine, and the (black, middle aged, highly educated) taxi driver telling us he'd probably vote for McCain; Minnesota was an experience, from the ice storm at the airport which nearly prevented us landing, vertical shards of white dashing past the plane windows on either side as I said to myself they do this all the time, they do this all the time, and the question I always ask myself when I travel somewhere new (especially somewhere as monumentally undistinguished as St Paul), how do people end up here?; I've enjoyed getting to know New York, walking down Madison Avenue thinking about Kirsty McColl's song of the same name, buying Kiehl's products in Bloomingdales, passing the Empire State which is currently in a state of renovation, following the Pilates session on the TV in my hotel room and feeling silly lying on the carpet trying to connect my legs to the earth, and visiting the jawdroppingly enormous New York HQ of UK law firm Clifford Chance (the largest law firm in the world, both by number of lawyers and revenue) for a happily coincidental meeting arranged by one of my Hong Kong clients, who hadn't realised I was in New York, the night before.

The thing I don't like about travel is the fact of it. The weariness, waking at 4am with thoughts running round my head as insistent as a headache. Not knowing where I am, what time it is, and whether I should eat. When I've been in meetings I have had no trouble at all. Outside of that temporary adrenaline rush, though, it's been like walking around with several sheets of bubble wrap tightly wound around my head.

What I have positively disliked is the fact that the clothes in every shop I go into seem to be "Made In China". Having just moved house I have an unusually powerful distaste for buying anything, but I feel particularly averse to the idea of buying anything made in China; to China it shall not return, at least not in my luggage. Viewed in this perspective, even the most technically desirable dresses are nothing more than landfill futures.


Mummy said...

My mother, who is eccentric at the best of times, has bought me a couple of gorgeous hair clips in the past from Selfridges in London. However, the aesthetic quality of them was secondary to her desire to ensure that she never buys me anything that is made in China. She says it feels like she is repatriating it (not to mention the carbon footprint of getting it from China to London and back to China).

The hair clips were made in Brazil and are lovely.

We'll be glad to have you home.

Anonymous said...

erm, but what about the carbon footprint of getting it from Brazil to London to HK?

Mummy said...

I did make that point but I think it was the wasted carbon (from A to B and back to A) rather than the overall impact!

And they are very nice clips...

Grande Poobah said...

welcome home

know precisely what you mean about the travel

as career women (ho ho) i find i feel most comfortable in a funny way when i'm on the work stage, most capable, competent and so on. loafing around in the hotel, or dinner for one at some restaurant (however lovely) drive home to me the loneliness of being on the road. and the anonymity of hotel rooms underscore the ubiquity and blandness of the corporate world.

yes, i have just had a bit of a trip. yes, I am having a bit of a moment.