12 February 2009

Tropical Island

As I think I mentioned in my lengthy inauguration report, a few years ago I went to see a well-known psychic. I was acting as an undercover agent for my friend Danny, the journalist, and I remember being a bit nervous at the time, thinking that if she really was psychic, she'd know right away that I was not who I claimed to be. What might then ensue - being thrown out of her house, having evil spells cast upon me, possibly being sold into slavery - was the subject of some fevered speculation.

As it was, if she could tell that I was anything other than a typical customer, she never let on, and one of the predictions she made for me was that within a few years I would find myself living on an island. "As in Manhattan?" I asked, since at the time I was just beginning to contemplate leaving London for New York.

No, she said, she saw me in a somewhat more tropical setting, near a beach where I could swim every day, and since I was also vaguely considering emigrating to Australia, I figured that must be what she meant. But when it came time to fill in my papers for Australia, I chickened out, missed the deadline, and since then the program under which I would have been accepted has expired, probably never to be reinstated. So instead of languishing on the beach in the Australian mid-summer, here I am on one of the New York islands - not Manhattan after all, as it turned out - in the depths of February.

Except that today was, while not quite tropical yet, warmer than almost everywhere else I might have been. Warmer, I gleefully noted, than even Los Angeles, where this morning it was 36 (4C) degrees while here in New York it was 63 (17C). Much, much warmer than San Francisco or London, of course, but even, for a few moments, a degree or two ahead of Sydney!

There's something disorienting but also delightful about seeing New Yorkers lounging at sidewalk cafes on a mild February night, and equally odd about walking into the gym to find all the windows thrown open to let the fresh air in. I'm sure it won't last much longer - some rain has already started to move in, and they're predicting snow by the weekend - but it's also not the first day this month that's been like this. I know that one needs to be careful what one wishes for, and that if the earth warmed up enough to turn New York into the tropical island I secretly would love it to be, we actually wouldn't be an island, because we'd be underwater. But still, I can't help having visions of Brighton Beach lined with palm trees and a year-round summertime in which down jackets and hats and scarves and gloves, not to mention coughs and sniffles and frostbitten faces, would be a thing of the past.

Hey, it could happen, right?

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