My second morning in the Bronx I wake up to the sound of rain heavy on the roof, a sound I normally love. But I’m feeling dirty, broke, and vulnerable… totally overwhelmed by this massive crumbling city. I’ve seen the place, done what I came for, and skipping town seems so much easier than the alternative: getting soaked on the walk to 170th Street Station and then wandering around downtown all day in the rain, without the money to do anything interesting.

I decide to hit the road, taking one last drive through Manhattan on my way out. I find my way across the bridge to 5th Ave and turn south.

I actually love driving in this city. There’s no expectation that you stay in your lane, or that you signal before you cut someone off, or that you obey any signs. Trucks stop wherever they want to make deliveries, and pedestrians walk blithely out in front of moving cars. Concern for others is misplaced in this town: everyone just has to do whatever’s necessary to get through the madness between A and B. It’s liberating, once you learn that it’s okay to break the rules.

Suddenly I’m happy, swerving through the sea of cabs and buses, gawking at all the wet landmarks from my warm dry van: I see Central Park, the Met, the Guggenheim (#&@% me, that is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful building), The New York Public Library, The Flatiron Building, Greenwich Village. Traffic is clear now but I need to stop and take another look at a map, so I turn off 7th and there, right in front of me… a parking spot. A free spot, til 9am tomorrow. This makes all the difference in the world, and I decide to stay one more day. Like magic, the rain turns to a light mist, and I spend a lovely morning wandering Greenwich Village, and the afternoon walking from times square North about 60 blocks, eventually connecting with a friend at Columbia University. She takes me to an amazing lecture by Juhani Pallasma, we have fantastic tacos with her friends afterwards, and bless her soul, she lets me use her shower. Oh my god, I feel clean and fantastic. Thank you Rand! And thank you New York, now we can part on good terms.