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Big Apple Unpeeled 8th October - 8th November 2010

Sunday 2 January 2011

My first New York friend

Just hours after arriving in Manhattan I made my first friend. A true New Yorker to boot!

After arriving at my apartment and checking it out, pretty much the next thing I did, before I even unpacked, was to get myself hooked up online. I'll write more about staying online in New York later.

Everything in New York just seems so convenient. There doesn't seem to be much you can't get without having to travel too far at any time. The store for my mifi device was about 5 blocks away.

This was my first time stepping out onto the streets and meeting my neighbourhood. It was later afternoon, the sun was shining and despite a long journey I was fully of energy!

I picked up my device and started to wander back to my apartment and a small shop front caught my eye. It looked a bit new age-y, and I thought I might pick up a few incense sticks (I'm not sure why I took this notion as I never used them at home).

It was small inside and heavily scented with many candles burning and lots of curiosities housed on shelves. The guy behind the counter was speaking with a woman in Spanish. I continued my nose around and selected some incense and waited to be served.

The woman left the shop and the guy said "Hi. How are you doing?"

"I'm great! I've just arrived in New York!!" I was in NEW YORK! I was having my first proper conversation!! This was exciting!!

He introduced himself at Ezo, and we continued our chat. I told him about my plans for my stay and he told me about his art and his love of graffiti.

"Let's meet up for a drink later."

"Hmm, I'll think about it", I replied. A new girl in a new town. I was a little hesitant and said I would think about it and meet him back at the shop around 9pm if I wanted to go for a drink.

Now, believe me, I really don't make a habit of going out for a drink with any man that asks me. And I know appearances can be deceptive, but Ezo seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and I WAS IN NEW YORK! Let's celebrate that with a drink with a new friend.

So I met him later and we went to a bar at a bar at the end of my street. It was a warm evening and we sat outside, the heavy Manhattan traffic just feet away. Music was blaring from bars and cars, impatient drivers were sounding their horns, I was looking up at some of the biggest buildings I've ever seen and surrounded by New York accents from pedestrians walking buy. I couldn't take it all in fast enough.

And I had a friend! We chatted over our drinks and talked about NY. Ezo Cukillz (Joe Wippler) loves his city and really appreciates it too.

He offered to sketch me. Sure! So I struck a pose and stayed as still as I could for 10 minutes or so, making sure I could still see everything that was going on around me and thinking to myself, "I'm in New York, I'm in New York, how did this happen? You did it! You are here!".

Ezo had finished my sketch. I loved it! He wasn't so keen, saying he didn't get my eyes or chin right, but it looked pretty good to me. What do you think?

It was getting a bit late and my long day and all the excitement was finally catching up with me, so I bid Ezo goodnight, and we said we would keep in touch. And we did. I spent a day with Ezo in Queens with his graffiti friends and we went to the Halloween parade together. I'll write about those events later.

I made quite a few friends during my stay in NYC. I found it really easy. Maybe that was partly due to me not working and being out and about everyday. Maybe because I was more open to conversations with people. Maybe people are more forward in NY and will just strike up a conversation with strangers. As the days went on, I certainly noticed I was more forward and less hesitant in saying hello to people. I guess my English reserve didn't hang about for too long in Manhattan! :)

2019 UPDATE: Who knew that 9 years later we would become more than friends. After all that time apart, we were together for 6 months.  Love has a strange way of working and it certainly took it's time! He drew my portrait again when he came to stay with me in Birmingham.  💑 💕

Joe Wippler aka, Ezo, painting my portrait

Joe Wippler / Ezo Cukillz. Artist. My completed portrait. 

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