An Englishman in New York

Another day; another hour of sitting in the British Airways lounge at JFK.

This has all become an exercise in existential roadwarriorism.

Why am I here; where is this next flight taking me?  What are we doing?  I always look the same when I do this:  skinny jeans; blazer; button up.  It is always a variation on the same theme, my travelling outfit.  Maybe my feet are in gold flats; maybe stiletto-clad this time — depending on how well my suitcase is packed and whether the shoes fit in the bag.  Maybe the blazer is blue; maybe it is black.  If I go into the office dressed like this, someone will inevitably ask Where are you going? because I only wear these clothes when I travel…and I don’t quite know why.  I have simply always been this way, and probably always will be.

Away we go.

Meanwhile, back in Manhattan and in an interesting twist of fate, my friend the Englishman came to New York and visited me last night.  Our relationship has always been one of hotels, and restaurants; occasionally, sitting down at his house or visiting his friends.  What is this; what was this?  I suppose it all tests the limits of whether men and women really can be friends.

We were supposed to go out to dinner, but instead, wound up talking at my round table.  In other words, like everyone is, he was sucked into The Vortex.  I am not sure whether it is the lack of natural light (though it was after 8pm and pouring rain, so that seems irrelevant), or the absence of true corners that makes my dining room area so irresistible to company.  People come to my apartment and they don’t leave.

Not that I mind.

So, he said, somewhat out of the blue, I test drove [a ridiculous luxury car] and I’m thinking of buying it.

Startled, I listened to him go on and on about the car.

I think it is no secret that I used to drive a ridiculous luxury car, and that I love cars, generally — the amount I knew about cars pleasantly surprised even my ex-husband, a man who had to be right about everything, and a man who used to build race cars as a hobby in college.

And the Englishman, for his part, currently drives a ridiculous luxury car.  Just not one was ridiculous as the car he was proposing to purchase.  However, being a single, successful attorney without a family of his own, he thought he could justify the purchase if he could make the numbers work.

I sat, dumbfounded.

I think you’re doing this to compensate for something!

He retorted with the wisecrack that would be expected.

No, I said, all of your friends are having babies and moving away, and you’re turning a certain age this year, and you’re trying to fill an empty space in your heart.

Do you want me to go lay down on the sofa so you can continue to analyse? he laughed.

I’m serious! I insisted, This would be different if you were really passionate about cars, and you dvr’d every episode of Top Gear, and you were doing this for that reason.  But you’re not!  You’re doing this as an eff-you to your friends.  You just don’t know it yet.

Well, if I dvr’d every episode of Top Gear, that’d be a bit obsessive, don’t you think?  And it’s just a beautiful car.

I threw my hands up in the air and pressed them to my eyebrows in the way I do when I am overwhelmed.  I gave him a long, hard look.  You’re so ambivalent about everything.  I don’t understand you.  You just like it?!  One doesn’t make a purchase like this because one thinks it’s “pretty.”

This went on and on, until we finally ordered some late-night Thai food.  He challenged me again over why I was challenging him.

It’s not that I don’t love luxury cars — I mean the car you want is objectively beautiful.  But you have a perfectly good, beautiful car right now.

Yes, but I want this new one.

But WHY?!

We were reaching impasse.  I continued to try to explain the psychological and emotional ramifications of his purchase of a fancy new car, and he continued to try and explain that his unconscious mind was in no way hurt or feeling abandoned by his friends for marrying off, moving away, having babies, and leaving him alone.

But at some point, I let something slip about my ex-Jag.

Wait.  You had a Jag?  So would this be different if I wanted to buy a Jaguar?  He said “Jaguar” in that British way that always makes me laugh.  And his voice rose an octave with mock rage as he asked the question.

Well, no.  It would be different if you were passionate about this car.  I was passionate about my Jag.

We looked at each other and laughed, our mouths full of late night Thai noodles.  The point ultimately was, a car obviously didn’t make the man (or the woman).  Sometimes, a thing was just a thing.  Sometimes, friends were just friends.  And sometimes not.  But for all my overanalysis of things, there was an equal and opposite natural force.

And also, I did have the propensity to be a hypocrite.  Just like the rest of the human race.

Then we parted ways around midnight — he went back to his midtown hotel; I slept fitfully for a few hours before donning my skinny jeans and blue blazer and heading back for the familiar wilds of JFK.

1 Comment

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  1. I wish I had a dollar for every time I wanted to purchase one of those “things” that was simply filling a gap I didn’t recognize existed yet.

    On that note, I think it’s almost mandatory for one to have a travelling “uniform” of sorts. Most often for me, it is that which has proven itself able to ward off shivering in the cabin.

    Happy Monday, lady.

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