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2004-01-20 - 6:30 p.m.


Another entry from the "dark period" - I should be up-to-date sometime soon and able to tell something about modern life in New York.


It is now early Monday morning (6:30am), and I am propped up on my air mattress drinking coffee, with two cats curled up against me under my legs (they are slowly recovering, but so far they are not ready to do much other than keep the bed warm). The wind is howling outside and the snow is still falling, as it did all day yesterday. But today is a federal holiday (Martin Luther King’s Birthday), so there is not a pressing need for me to escape the covers.

My first weekend in New York went by in a blur, and I still have this strong sense of disorientation, not believing that I am really here. My uncle Ed arrived early in the afternoon on Saturday and we spent the rest of the weekend measuring, shopping, and unpacking necessities – food, shelves, cleaning supplies, coffee maker. In the end I was so thankful that he came up to help me. I think it dampened the effects of travel shock. The whole weekend I didn’t feel alone in an empty apartment in a new place. It was especially comforting to have Ed here – he’s my favorite uncle – great sense of humor, and easy-going, and good practical ideas about how to organize a house. Only after Ed left yesterday afternoon did my morale begin to sink, and I began to realize that I am here alone. I desperately wanted to call some friends in Germany…but it was the middle of the night there, and I had no telephone. No email. No television to at least give you the feeling that there is someone else in the apartment. After reading a while, I fell asleep, and was awakened only by telephone calls that I barely remember – Ed made it home safely to Baltimore through the ice and snow, but their dog Johnny is still ill. Klaus called from Germany but my jetlag and failing cellphone technology leaves only a blurry memory of our talk. Finally I fell deeply asleep, and dreamt that all German work and choir and orchestra colleagues were here with me in New York.

I awoke once again to the startlingly strange noises of a new place. The radiators squeak and crack and wheeze. The neighbor’s baby cries. The landlord’s television drones on, and I can hear her feet thump across the floor. I hear the mumblings of their conversations. An isolated car crunches on the ice and snow in the alleyway. All of these sounds bring me and the cats alert again, and I wonder how long it will take for us to get used to them.

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