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.