Letter From New York 01 12 15 Venturing back to the city…

Last night, I returned to New York City to have dinner with a friend, David, who was in town from Delaware. It was interesting stepping off the train and throwing myself into the mild mayhem that is Penn Station, so much grittier and grim than Grand Central Station.

There is always, now, a moment when I take a deep breath before plunging in to the swarm. Really, it is an assault on the senses. Parts of the station seem to be falling apart. Tarps lined one of the ceilings to keep rain from falling on our heads, I guess.

Meeting David at his hotel, we went just a half block to Angus’ in the Theater District and had a meal and a drink and a good catch-up. As I don’t have cable either at home or at the little apartment in New York, I watched the Golden Globes with David. The moment that stood out to me was in George Clooney’s acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award. He said something to the effect that everyone in the room had managed to grab the brass ring, they were inside the tent and getting to do what they wanted. And it is true, people in that room, for the most part, had grabbed the brass ring. Good for him for saying so.

This morning when I left the apartment building, William, the daytime doorman, reminded me it was raining outside. I thanked him for the warning but ventured out without an umbrella. I had forgotten that all the umbrellas are at the cottage. It was a wet, chill day in New York, grey and somber, streets slick with rain and everyone a little damp and miserable.

In contrast to the bucolic setting of the cottage, the city makes it easy to be reminded of all the things happening in the world. Sirens blare, ambulances screech through the streets, police cars race from one point to the next, lights all rotating madly, enough to give one an attack of some sort. Here it is possible to feel close to the chaos that was Paris last week.

Sitting waiting for an appointment, CNN Breaking News as well as the BBC announced that ISIS had hacked into the twitter account of Centcom, the US Military Command. I wondered if we had moved into the era of total cyber warfare? Centcom defined the attack as cyber-vandalism. When does vandalism cross into being an attack?

I feel less dispassionate in the city. The world is very close to you. The reality of trouble is only a fingertip away. Winding my way through the streets and traversing the subway, I felt a greater need to be alert, to be a bit more careful. Part of me wanted to slip away as quickly as I could, to once again bathe in the calm of the cottage. I am here tonight, gone tomorrow and then back again on Wednesday for a dinner meeting. I’ll stay, probably, the rest of the week. It will be interesting to see how I adapt to city life again after so much time in the country.

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