I basically spent all of May to September in the countryside and highlands of Iceland, depriving myself of temperatures over 20`C, with the exception of a few heatwaves that passed thru. I tried to go to Poland in August to soak up some sun, but Warsaw and Gdansk only offered overcast skies and 16`C. Before the sheep round ups, an event that officially marks the end of summer, and inevitably chasing sheep in the snow, I got away to Boston and New York for a week, and finally got me some heat.
I’ve been to Boston, but had never really been to Boston before. Stopping over and passing through never really made me stay to visit, but now my one and only college roommate (and best friend) lives there and gives me plenty of good reason to visit. She’s a smarty pants – doing her master’s at Harvard – and all sorts of mature after leaving her St. Marks Place party apartment in the East Village for a 2-storey house with a backyard in the quiet neighbourhood of Somerville. She gave me a tour of Cambridge and the campus, and barely had enough time to sleep between her endless studying and me nagging for her attention. We ate clam chowder and schmoozed her classmates at a Happy Hour that she organized since she was running for a position in student
politics (which she won). We met up with some other Semester at Sea alumni and reminisced about life on the ship and traveling the world together. I also entertained myself by meeting other friends I knew in Massachusetts, going to the beach, and shopping for the things I can’t afford to buy in Iceland.
I rode the train from Boston to Penn Station without sleeping my last night in Mass, and emerged from the underground a few blocks away from Times Square, dazed and confused. I was suffering some serious culture shock – 4 months of open spaces and more horses than people, to a city corner with more cars and lights and faces than I had seen all summer. I had to reprogram myself to function in the chaos, get an orientation of place and direction, and walk on without looking totally lost. The overwhelment was exciting, it was as if I was in New York City for the first time, like a kid in wonderment sensing all the colours, smells and sounds in high definition.
New York city was sunny and humid, stickiest underground where the intricate web of subways and walkways intermingle below the streets and avenues of yellow cabs and pedestrians. It took some time to become familiar again, but I never felt guilty of sticking out since everyone and everything seems to fit in to the city puzzle somehow. All the peculiar fashion and unintelligible languages I passed made me feel less foreign, and a weekend trip to Long Island was like becoming part of the ‘in’ crowd.
My friends from the city rented a house together in Montauk, spending every weekend there during the summer. A lot of people do this, but after Labour Day weekend, mostly only locals are left, with the beaches and nightclubs all to themselves, with the same warm weather lasting a few more weeks. We indulged in the sunshine by sailing around the hamptons, sitting on the beach, and drinking cocktails poolside. We went to an art gallery to see a photo exhibition and tasted beer from the Montauk Brewing company. The warm nights we spent barbequeing on the patio and dancing like crazies on the empty dancefloors. It didn’t matter, since we were always a big enough group of people to have our own party, and our expressive (and excessive) dance moves took up a lot of space.
Montauk was a special place – a surf town with alternative and creative culture, mixed with an artsy, upper-class eliteness you can’t get quite as friendly with. Its a slow and spread out place, with a beach or harbour always a stones throw away, but enough forests between that deer graze along the road, barely shying at your headlights. You need a car to get around, and a lot of money to eat or do anything there, but I’m so grateful for the friends I had to share this little piece of paradise with me.