A Night in New York – Part 1

Speeding smoothly along the Hudson River on a gray Saturday morning, the train to New York is only about half full. A rare luxury – a seat to myself – allows me to man-spread and sprawl, and soon I am asleep, albeit fitfully. It’s the kind of sleep where you never quite feel like your eyes are completely closed, more of a forced rest and a way of blocking out the light of day. Yet there were pockets of unawareness, places where I did skid off the spectrum of cognizance, because the two and a half hours passed quickly, and when next I opened my eyes they were greeted with the dark cavern of Penn Station. Thus the dream ended… or began.

As one enters the dimly-lit elevator at the Standard High Line, a pair of psychedelic videos runs on each side of the otherwise-black walls. A looping excerpt of Cinderella’s Waltz by Prokofiev plays over the sound system, and it’s as enchanting as it is tinged with darkness. This is a place and time where magic can happen.

Spiraling into an infinite well, images of pop culture and beauty swirled like a colorful lollipop – lotus poses and nude women, Julie Andrews and marionettes, all to the slightly-menacing movements of Prokofiev. My key grants entrance to the floors above. There are other faces here too, all silent and still, and as the images circle further away, I seem to have jumped down a rabbit’s hole even as I’m ascending. The Standard High Line provides the home base for a night in New York. Chris is already there, and we meet for a brunch before I head off on my own for a quick shopping excursion. More faces on the subway, more smiles in the stores, and after procuring a coat of many colors, I head back for a disco nap.

We are seeing ‘Sleep No More’ and I need to rest because I’m old now. The show doesn’t begin until midnight, and a nap is mandatory. Again, though, my sleep is restless, or maybe restful is better term, because it’s not quite sleep, it’s merely slight sedation, and the whole time it feels like I am forcing my eyes shut. In some ways it would have been easier just staying awake. Still, those minutes went somewhere, and as I get up again it’s almost possible to capture the moment day turns to dusk.

With one flick of a cosmic switch, night comes on just as the lights of the Empire State Building flicker to life. Its spire almost disappears into the low clouds and I wonder again if I’m dreaming, so surreal has the city become on this cloudy day that mists a little but never quite gives itself over to rain. I pull a gauzy curtain over the peep-show window and perform my Standard shower routine. When I’m finished, I pull the curtains open and there is no longer any doubt: the day has disappeared.

Back in the elevator, Prokofiev plays again. It is wickedly wonderful music, and I’ve always been a sucker for a waltz. Disorienting and dream-like, it is the soundtrack to midnight, when magic ends and begins all at once. I descend into the evening…

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