fa la la la la, la la la la


I only have a handful of days left in New York before I fly to Dakar in the new year. Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment in the Woolworth Building (above) and I realized that the last time I was there – nearly three year ago – was also right before leaving for Dakar.

Things are different now. I’m not going indefinitely this time, or even for long enough to count it as a relocation. I’ll just spend two or three months there for work, and then I’ll come back. At this point in my life, that’s the perfect set-up.

So, I don’t have any of the bittersweet preemptive nostalgia for the city that I had last time around. Still, since the Woolworth Building reminded me of my imminent departure, and since I was just a couple of blocks away from a stunning hotel, I decided to have an espresso at the hotel bar instead of at the midtown coffee shop across from work.

On my way, I passed another gorgeous building that I swear I’ve never seen before… though in reality I must have.


Also this beautiful ghost signage.


And here’s my destination, the Beekman Hotel.




I have been to both the hotel’s bar and its restaurant before, but I’d never been inside Augustine, its French-style bistro. It was just as stunning as the rest of the place.


I had the best $6 espresso I’ve ever had, both because I’ve never paid $6 for an espresso before and because it was delicious, and then I passed other lovely buildings I’ve never considered for long enough, on my way back to the subway and my everyday office life.

The whole detour lasted maybe forty minutes but made me feel a certain sense of wonder the rest of the day.

Grab those little moments to be a tourist in your own city, people! It has a disproportionately beneficial effect on your mental health.

A very New York sort of day


This morning at the subway turnstile I realized that my Metrocard had expired, and since I have so little time left in New York I renewed it with a weekly unlimited pass instead of my usual monthly one. It was kind of bittersweet, kind of shocking, and kind of awesome.

After my downtown meeting directly across the street from the Woolworth Building, I took a moment to walk casually past the “no tourists beyond this point” sign and gawk at the spectacular lobby. (Had anyone stopped me I would have said, “Humph, I’m no tourist!”) Even though it’s one of the world’s first skyscrapers, the Woolworth Building had never been on my NYC bucket list, but after seeing it in person I now know it should have been.

My next order of business was in Midtown and a huge pain, but when I was finally done and waiting for the subway at Grand Central, the finale of a pretty delightful song by the speakeasy-style band on the platform harmonized perfectly with the sound of the train pulling into the station.

I thought, you will get none of this in Senegal.

And yet.

Today I received information about the family I will be staying with in Dakar for about two months. The homestay was arranged by the language-learning center where I’ll be doing 40 hours of one-on-one lessons over two weeks. I had found and loved the sound of this particular program two years ago when I first started looking into immersion possibilities in Senegal, and very (very, very) coincidentally, my newish-at-the-time friend found and chose the same program when she decided to do her own French immersion last summer. She loved it and especially loved her host family so I requested them as well, and today I found out that they are free, and that’s where I’ll be staying.

Yes, I’ll be giving up skyscrapers and subway symphonies for awhile. But soon I’ll be feasting my eyes and ears on all new sights and sounds, and I am so excited about that.

[Photo of Woolworth Building lobby: Christ-ophile]