Playoff season heralds several things. Husband is permanently distracted, engineering our movements on the basis of where he will be able to catch the game. Luckily for him this appears to be almost everywhere, from the Mediterranean bistros lining sunny Las Olas boulevard Fort Lauderdale, to the local bar in our new home town of Schenectady. Secondly, perhaps more disturbingly, I too on several occasions have found myself clocking the scores on TV screens, thus beginning a complete immersion into the culture that has welcomed this Brit.
Friends back home wonder whether I am missing the British eccentricity. The kind of quintessential madness that can only be truly comprehended, loved and loathed by native Britons. Waves of this warped nostalgia are easily washed away when we meet people like Pedro, the half Belgian half Spanish waiter at our favourite haunt in Fort Lauderdale. Over our seafood linguini Pedro spoke at us for roughly half an hour (without commas) about his journey to Miami, becoming an accidental antique dealer. His first container load, of what he described in his Hispanic gesticulation and thick Flemish twang as 1960s Belgian junk, sold for $15,000 more dollars than which it cost him. Several years of similar sales and he was living the American Dream. Not so for Palm Man, as grey in pallor as Pedro was suntanned, hair clinging melancholically to the sides of his head baseball cap stuffed with the rest of the nesty locks, who comes to our table and begins a demonstration. Two folded palm leaves later, now looking remarkably like roses, we learn this gentleman has copyrighted the alphabet. On the back of “E”-sure and Ebay launches he set about securing rights for the rest of the letters. Must be a long term investment plan, what with the palm tricks supplemental income.
These folk are in the pink sun-setting distance. We have propelled through time into upstate New York’s fall. Descending through the clouds, hazy glimpses of rainbows, rolling forest covered hills undulating below us, rusty coloured fall foliage glowing in the late afternoon rays. The smell of crisp woody autumnal air greeted us at Albany airport, where driver Bill, took us through a stand-up version of Schenectady history. I have a new found joy in travel days surrounded as we are by bon vivant actors - bleary eyed on account of a middle of the night dip in the sea, crew – propping up the bar next the gate and wide eyed three year old - magicking the furniture into pirate ships. Troupe suddenly burst into a perfectly harmonised rendition of Happy Birthday to honour the company manager, spontaneous applause from all the nearby passengers at the final flourish.
On our first tip toe around Schenectady, deserted of a Monday night but for the odd passing SUV, we found a restaurant/bar on a picturesque main street. The brick buildings in their terraced turn of the century glory a world away from the swishing palm tree lined bungalow streets of last week’s tropical lands. Boy is now getting his beauty sleep, grandma much the same, husband has those worry lines upon his brow (top of the ninth and the Yankees are struggling) and ma tries to make her deadline before heading down to the big smoke tomorrow. We are deserting husband for the Big Apple because a. it is but a three hour train ride away (boy is very very excited) and b. my ma looks like she would enjoy a spot of shopping.
Have also, under oath, promised to bring husband back a Yankee win.