Saturday, July 28, 2012

An impromptu communion

I stayed at work last night and watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony in the comfort of an air-conditioned office, with a couple of glasses of super tasty St. Kitts spiced rum & coke at the ready.  I liked the ceremony, except the bit about the NHS was confusing, and I couldn't decide whether Sir Paul McCartney was overcome with emotion or just crap.  I don't want to lean toward the latter, but I think I need to on this one.  It was pretty bad.  But whatever - on balance, I thought the ceremony was amazing and the way Danny Boyle did the Olympic cauldron was fantastic.  When I left the office a little before midnight, the air was still thick with heat and humidity - a muggy start to the weekend.  I could have walked home, but I split an air-conditioned cab with Hewie instead.

Morning came around really fast (you know I hate that).  I was up early though, because I was more determined than ever to commune with Buddha at the meditation center in Chelsea.  This was my third attempt at the 'serenity and enlightenment' thing but I was totally busted again.  I made it to the Centre, checked in with the security guard (apparently inner peace is a closely-guarded commodity), and was told by the receptionist that our teacher has the flu and class has been cancelled.  I was gutted.  And suddenly without plans, on the other side of town, at 10am on a Saturday.

I got back on the subway and visited Battery Park, where I got all cosy on a bench, feet up and all.  If I looked up, I was staring straight over the water at the Statue of Liberty.  And every so often, a beautiful breeze would come off the water and cool me right down.  I got through a couple of chapters of my book, a vanilla cream churro, and a Diet Coke and I was well relaxed.  I didn't even mind the hordes of tourists dashing back and forth in front of me, bee-lining for the cruise ships over to Liberty & Ellis Islands.

Having soaked up enough sun, I rode the #1 subway back uptown, this time alighting in the West Village.  I turned the wrong way out of the station (of course) before I righted myself and wound in and out of a couple of clothing boutiques and bookshops in the neighbourhood.  Without really knowing where I was, I stumbled across Meyers of Keswick, the little store that sells foods primarily from the UK but also from Canada.  The store also sells Vegemite, but at USD$4.95 for a teeny jar, I don't think I'll ever need it that badly.  I did purchase a pork sausage roll and a stick of strong peppermints, but otherwise I just had a bit of a browse (HP sauce, Branston pickle, Scottish tablet - ahh memories!).

Strolling along, I looked to my left and saw Pastis, where I had enjoyed some light refreshments a few weekends before (ironically, after the first failed attempt at meditation).  But seeing the restaurant finally gave me my bearings, for the first time in quite a while.

At that point, the number 14 bus nearly ran me over, so I hopped on board and took myself to the movies.  Have you seen "The Savages" yet?  Oliver Stone is the director and it's pretty full-on but I found myself really enjoying the story.  And I totally want to look like Salma Hayek when I grow up - she has aged so well and she's particularly fierce in this film.  And there is something lovely about sitting in an air-conditioned cinema, not having to think about what you're watching - just zoning out.

I suppose it's funny that all three times I've tried to go to the meditation center, my plans for a communion with Buddha have been thwarted.  And yet on all three occasions, I've found Plan B diversions that have been totally wonderful and left me feeling relaxed and happy.  It may not be a mantra-fuelled enlightenment, but I'll take it anyway.

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