I arrived in New York yesterday for the annual Blogging While Brown conference. I spent the day enjoying the sights and sounds of my favorite American city. The conference hotel is the Aloft Harlem. I was a bit alarmed that my taxi driver had never heard of it since the Aloft is a major, global chain but we made it. I checked in and hit the pavement, walking across the street to the Magic Johnson AMC, checking out the farmer’s market a few blocks away, then an early dinner at Melba’s Restaurant on 114th. I guess she’s a relative of the world famous restaurant owner, Sylvia, and Sylvia should be proud! Short ribs and collard greens to die for baby. Harlem is much more multicultural than people expect. In fact, the only unusual thing is that hardly anyone is texting or talking on the phone as they walk the long blocks to and fro. People look you in the eye and actually smile occasionally. Eye contact from strangers…on the East Coast? That was special.
Last nite I snagged a 7th row ticket to the Broadway play Trip to Bountiful. Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding, and Vanessa Williams were electric on stage together. Afterward, I strolled to Times Square where EVERYONE was on the phone texting, talking, or taking a photo. I saw a baby in a stroller babbling on a HTC One. Yes, that’s a tourist area but that’s what I usually see when I’m here, no matter which burrough I visit. I wasn’t lonely but I felt much more alone with those thousands in Times Square for a few minutes than I did all day in Harlem. Then, the strangest thing happened. A group of Asian girlfriends handed me their very expensive looking camera and gestured for me to take a photo of them. I did, then an Indian couple asked. Suddenly, I became the official photographer for every non-English speaking person in the area and I have no idea why. Maybe they figured I couldn’t run very fast in 5 inch hees. Still, the fact that they trusted me with their cameras somehow made me feel less invisible. Funny how a simple act of kindness works both ways huh?