The driving on Monday morning is remarkably sedate, I drop my bags off at JFK and the bike is instantly transformed into an agile greyhound, eager again to catch miscreants and speeding motorists as it has done for most of its life. However, I have clocked up 11 out of the 50 thousand miles it spent in its working life, all in two months. Well done, Kawasaki KZ1000 – I will reward you with a new set of rings when you get home.
I meet a vile green Harley Davidson chopper with extended forks at the traffic lights in Valley Stream L.I. I lean over and ask if he was shipping the bike and he said yeah, do you know where Jamaica Ave is? I said I did, as I was there three days ago. I roar up the street, the chopper struggles to turn the 90 street corners.
Greg, the boss of Berklay Inc. shipmybike.com meets me, we do the paperwork and I hand him the sacred title document – without which I could not sell or export the bike. I tape up the battery leads and we remove the petrol from the tank. He takes me in his car to get a spare key cut but we fail to get one made as the blanks are unusual so we make do, Greg will Fedex the key to me at home so I can pick it up next Monday, all being well. Greg tell me the only reliable carrier is Air France. No one ships this type of freight to Heathrow, Lufthansa, SAS are useless he tell me. Air France will put the bike on the Eurotunnel train and it will end up in Heathrow by rail.
He also tells me that he is the only person freighting motorcycles.; a signed Orange County Choppers poster on the wall next to me, countless dusty plastic models of bikes, all sizes grace the scruffy little office, running so smoothly and efficiently. Only one other guy is doing this, from Moscow, he only does 50 bikes a year, I do many more. He owns his aircraft, a mafia guy allegedly. He does a lot of cars, the new Dodge and Mercedes for example – they are cheaper in the US than Europe so he ships them straight into Russia.
Greg takes me to Valley Stream station , the lon Island Railroad train takes me into Penn Station and I wander like everyone else looking for happiness but not finding it. I decide to text and ring the kids and Mrs Jtreg and then ring my daughter to check what her wishes are in my brief time in Manhattan. Urban Outfitters is tracked down sweatily, I feel sick and tired and everything tales on a hallucinatory appearance, edgy and mad. I am thirsty, hungry and tired, dive into a forbidden place and order forbidden food. Wendys. Eurggh, I feel I am getting a heart attack and barge into the single rest room, sign on the wall: dining room for patrons: 20 minutes allowed.
Staggering out of Wendys, I wipe my greasy beard. I look down at my filthy sneakers, unkempt hair holding my plastic bags. A man with a mountainous polythene bag filled with drink cans nods agreeably at me, recognising me as his peer. I cant face another ride on the subway, even though logic would tell me to use the last day of the 7 day pass I purchased. I jump into a pristine air conditioned cab driven by a young Indian who is murmuring into his Bluetooth headset as we weave through the back streets, avoiding the jams along the main avenues. Take me to a good multiplex. Sure, I will take you to one off 42nd St. I thank him for saving me for the bizarre psychological onslaught of the streets, I have no strength left and fall asleep bathed in the panoramic violence of The Bourne Ultimatum
I have no strength left so I hail a cab on 42nd to find a cheap motel near JFK – A Palestinian English professor takes me there, we have an interesting discussion on the way and he reverses up the freeway to get into the motel entrance, all is well and I am almost home.
If you have been reading about my journey over the last 10 or so weeks I hope you have been enjoying it, if so, thank you – I enjoyed writing it and am grateful to have made it back unscathed – I will now have to adjust back into the old routines but something tells me it will not be the same, just as well, really.
I am no Ted Simon (Jupiters Travels) but what it has done is to reveal a little more inside and out and also inspired me to see a little more as well if I can manage that. It also inspires me that most people, wherever they are, are wonderful, really.