Yesterday I emerged from my room for the first time in two days, feeling weak and like my legs weren’t quite working. Before I got sick, I’d had my best day in NY, where I wandered around MoMA in awe, discovering that basically every famous painting in the world is there, and all the artists I was obsessed with during university were represented. I saw Warhol and the expressionists and I spent hours and hours, until I actually may have gotten dehydrated. Then that night, my friend Jack Vening flew out of the sun like a bewildered, bedraggled eagle and we chose a bar next to his stinky hostel to drink maple old fashioneds and IPA’s which are traditional US drinks. This trains meeting in the night rendezvous with Jack was wonderful because the next morning he was off to Yale to learn how to write nice like Rory Gilmore, and we would part ways, never to see each other in this big continent again. We had plans of shaking hands next to Lake Michigan, but dreams are born to die. It was perfect for me, because I was getting lonely, and had almost forgotten how to talk to people.
The day before I waited in line for hours to get up the Empire State Building and when I got up there it was very nice, I could see all over the place and the sun had finally come out and made everything look less like an episode of Law and Order: SVU and more like an episode of Law and Order set in the summer. I had prepared myself to wait a long time, so i didn’t lose my freaking mind like other people in the queue, who kept trying to push in and vault the velvet ropes and pick fights with the staff, who all wore impervious game faces and could not be swayed.
I’ve seen improv at UCB theatres most nights, because it’s free for students and what I’m spending a bunch of this trip learning. I was super early for one show, and stopped in for a beer at a random bar, and then the only other patron than me started singing ‘true colours’ and I realised it was some kind of karaoke bar.
When I got back to my place after I let Jack finally go and sleep after his 28 hour plane trip, I thought ‘cool, I’ve got this, this is fun and easy, I just spend my day looking at things, and spend the evening watching people being dickheads’ and then by the next morning my throat ached like I’d swallowed knives and I shook with fever and sweated and my eyes hurt and I had toe pain and I was a sloppy mess that used to be human. I called for help on Facebook, and then slept all day. The next day, I felt just as awful, and went on a mission into Manhattan to go to a doctor, who after a bewildering series of waiting rooms and putting my details into computers, gave me antibiotics and then took all my money.
Unsurprisingly, being sick for three days has been the lowest part of this trip for me. I felt too weak and sick to even comprehend going out. I felt so desperate to feel well, and to feel safe again that at one point I found myself on the phone to Qantas, seeing if I could move my return trip forward by a week. Nuts to you, Chicago, sick Patrick apparently hates you! Luckily I was so dizzy that I couldn’t really understand what the lady was saying, and I had my friend Michelle passing on medical info from her medical boyfriend to me on messenger, and then Bridget woke up and was like ‘you’ll regret that decision when you feel better, stupid’, and it’s true. Being sick in other countries sucks. I didn’t feel safe or competent. But luckily I had people make me feel safe and warm and less alone on the other end of a beam of wifi magic, and what would I have done before the internet? I would have had to rely on comforting messenger hawks.