I spent the rest of the spring and summer and fall in Manhattan at John's mother apartment with John. I spent a great deal of time in the day time reading the New York Times and going to museums. In the evening I would occasionally go to the a bar down in the village or to one of several discotheques. However, I knew few people in Manhattan and had little in the way of funds to entertain myself. As usual I spent a lot of time going between Long Island, Manhattan, and Fairfield County visiting family and friends. I began to long for the simpler life of Key West or Nantucket.
That spring John and I painted his mother's apartment and through the summer we did work at his grandmother's place. I could not find a steady job that paid enough to live in Manhattan, so I just got by day to day. In August I was all by myself since John's mother was in Europe and John was out at his Grandmother's. It was unbearably hot in Manhattan as the winters were frigid and I really began to hate the city. I was living in the center of Yuppie gentrification on west 74th street, but I did not particularly care for the area since I was uninvolved in any significant activity. I would occasionally go up to Columbia and use the University library, and would spend much of my day reading and touring the city.
I maintained my routine through that fall in New York with occasional side trips out of the city. I began to feel like I was stuck in Manhattan for the duration, however I had no prospects on the job front and was getting depressed.
At Christmas time I went down to my sister's house in Philadelphia to be with her family. One evening while we were partying on Christmas eve, I received a telephone call from John's mother that her mother had been in an accident. A match had sparked while she was lighting a cigarette and ignited her night gown burning half of her body and giving her a stroke. John had been there and saved her putting out the fire, however his whole family was in a great deal of turmoil. I called him up and he said she would recover but be partially paralyzed from the stroke. I went ahead and stayed in Philadelphia and returned to John's mother's apartment after the holiday. With the tragedy in his family, there was a lot of tension in the apartment and John was on Long Island caring for his grandmother daily.
I moved into a friend's apartment for two weeks and the weather was sub zero in New York. I decided to go back down to Key West. Key West was equally warm, however none of my regular friends were there and I could not find any place inexpensive to stay. I started shuttling around a group of new friends showing them around the island and going to parties and the discotheque. The first week I got third degree burns from the sun since I had not been out in the sun quite a long time. Key West was more commercial and expensive, but still I was having a good time being a house guest maintaining my usual routines of the beach, library, and discotheques. I made quite a number of new friends and every one seemed happy to have me on the island.
After about two weeks in Key West, the accommodations I was occupying became intolerable, and I decided to work my way slowly north. Key West had become terribly commercial, and it was no longer a tropical paradise. I later read that the island had the highest incidence of meningitis of any where in the United States because they pumped raw sewage into the ocean. Moreover the drug problems of south Florida had become manifest on the island. The island was played out and I decided never to return.
Early that spring I returned to John's grandmother's house on Long Island. His grandmother was still hospitalized and he was very depressed. I knew how he felt since both of my grandparents had died the previous year.
He had an idea for a project to build an accessory apartment in the garage behind the house. He had worked up a design for a one bedroom apartment with living room, kitchen, and bath. I had not done any similar work since I was sixteen when I worked on my parent's house, but I said in time we would be able to do it. I originally thought it would take two or three months to complete. John had said he would help, but when his grandmother arrived home he had to take care of her full time.
I bought a copy of the Better Homes and Gardens' home improvement book and started to work on a scheme for the project. I made up a long list of tools and necessities. What I thought would be a two or three month project turned out to be a nine month project with only four days off in the entire period of twelve plus hour days.
The project slowly evolved despite the fact that the noise constantly irritated John's grandmother during her convalescence. I began to regret that I had undertaken the project and could only hope that it would be some day completed.
When I was not working on the project, it seemed that I was in various hardware stores and supply houses procuring the necessities for the project. One day blended into another. Practically the first thing I did was install the air conditioner, so I was able to work in cool air during the duration of the summer. There were many unexpected hassles, such as termites. In addition to doing all of the carpentry, I did the electricity, plumbing, and interior decoration and outside landscaping. Around Christmas time the project began to near completion after over fifteen hundred hours of back breaking work. John had not been able to help on the project and it had become a solo project.
John's mother was being evicted from her apartment in Manhattan, and as the apartment began to look promising she agreed to rent it from her mother. On New Year's Eve, we moved her in, but it would take another several weeks of work before the project was complete. John's grandmother was happy to have her daughter at home.
As the project neared completion I had not made any plans as too what I would do. I was extremely tired and decided I would take off traveling.
I went down to the west coast of Florida and visited my father and his wife for a week. I had not seen them in a while and enjoyed visiting with them. We went over to Epcot Center for a day. After visiting with my father, I went over to the east coast of Florida and visited for a day with my mother.
I returned to the New York area with no place to stay, so I decided to take the Amtrack down to Washington and visit there. I had never spent much time in Washington, so I decided to explore Georgetown. I took a room in the Georgetown Inn which was very expensive, but I could afford it. I explored the university and Georgetown area for a week. I met a heart surgeon who told me a lot of inside stories on Washington, and claimed it was the most powerful city in the world. Dr. Gillespie was full of inside trivia and he made my stay much more enjoyable. I never left the Georgetown area of the city to look at the more monumental aspects of the city.
After a week I returned to visit my younger sister and brother in law in Connecticut where they had moved the previous year. From there I went up to New Haven for a week and stayed at the Colony Inn for a week. I spent most of the week using the library and exploring Yale.
I was gradually using up all my money, but I did not think I would be able to afford anything for the long run in Greenwich, so I did not return there. After a week in New Haven, I stopped by my sister's and repacked my bags, and announced that I was going to Oslo, Norway. That evening I caught the night flight to Norway, and was dropped off at a military base outside Oslo the next morning. Most of the passengers on the flight went to Stockholm.
I found a room in the Y.M.C.A. across the street from the S.A.S. hotel, and I began to explore the city. It was not particularly cold for winter and there was no snow. The first night I went to a discotheque called Noble Dancer after the race horse. It had one of the best looking groups of young people I had ever seen, and I began to long to live in Oslo.
I transferred to another hotel behind the palace and spent many long days exploring the city. I would spend my mornings in a health club in the basement of the S.A.S. hotel swimming, lifting weights, and using the sauna and trying to quit smoking. In the afternoons, I would walk around the historical old city. I fit right in. I looked like your average Norwegian since I had blond hair and blue eyes. I attended a concert in the Nobel Peace Prize Hall and toured some of the old monumental buildings in the central Oslo district. I made it up to the Frogmore park and saw all of the controversial sculptures.
My norwegian friend from the Canary Islands was not listed in the phone book, so I was never able to look him up. I met someone who looked like David Bowie at the Intourist party one Saturday night. I really wish I had enough money to visit the rest of Scandinavia and go on to Russia, because the Russians were very friendly towards me. I began to realize that I looked more like Scandinavians and Russians than an American. The whole city was Deja Vue, quite clean, pleasant, and safe. I never left the central district of Oslo, so I did not get a chance to see the beautiful country side. I spent one late evening at an old pub drinking Ringness beer with a group of Norwegians behind the oldest church in Oslo. After ten days I had to leave Norway, since I was out of funds, and I returned to Manhattan on a S.A.S. flight via Copenhagen. I did not leave the airport in Copenhagen. I just bought two cartons of Prince cigarettes and returned to the plane. I arrived back in the country just before Easter. I borrowed some money from John and flew up to Nantucket to spend the rest of the summer there.
I did not feel like doing construction since my arthritis had bothered me on the previous project, so I went back to work in the kitchen of the French restaurant. However, the season was not busy yet, so I went up to Stowe, Vermont and worked in another restaurant my employers owned up there. I spent most of my time around the restaurant since I did not have a car. The ski season was over and not much was going on. During the first week of May, I returned to Nantucket for the rest of the summer.
I had always made it a habit to stay on Nantucket for the entire summer once I arrived for good. The French restaurant was busy and I kept busy working six evenings a week. I would read and go to the beach in the day time. The island was full of summer people and I was known from previous summers. The restaurant had a good crew of people and a lot of them were friends, however at age thirty three I was getting a little old to be working summer jobs, however the resort business was seasonal and a great many of the workers would go down to Florida for the winter.
Still I had a long summer of sun and the beach ahead of me. I stayed in a basement room of a guest house owned by my employer. The accommodations were lacking, but the house was right in the center of town near the restaurant. I developed my routine around working and one day lead into another. I made quite a few friends and would spend most days at the beach. I also did some part time painting in the day time with a skier from Stowe. The island was as beautiful as ever in the summer, and it always seemed a world away from the busy northeast metropolitan area. I was making enough money to get by, but saving very little since the island is terribly expensive. One month lead into another with the busy period coming and going, and before long Labor Day was over and the summer was over. I decided to stay on until Columbus Day enjoying the island.
On Columbus Day, I flew off the island and met my mother at Logan airport. She had driven down from Kennebunkport. We drove down the New England Coast stopping in Greenwich for me to get a haircut and then on to my sister's house in Philadelphia. After a few days in Philadelphia, we returned to Kennebunkport to find out that her house had been robbed in Florida. So while her husband was still away we decided to drive down to Florida to see what had happened. On arrival in Florida I helped my mother out for a couple of days before she returned to Maine, and I headed down to Fort Lauderdale to see if I could find a job for the winter.
There was a big Octoberfest party going on in Fort Lauderdale when I arrived. I stayed for a week and was unable to find work since the resort season had not started. I drove over to visit my father on the west coast. He had become ill with Parkinson's disease, but I was happy to see him and his wife and had a brief stay with them. I returned back to Fort Lauderdale and eventually ran low on funds since I had not saved that much on Nantucket. I decided to return north to Nantucket, so I dropped the rental car off at my mother's who had returned from Maine and flew up to Nantucket.
Nantucket was not busy and the restaurant could only offer part time work, so I started painting in the day time. I stayed in the boarding house run by the nurse since the guest house I had stayed in that summer was closed. All went fine until Thanksgiving time when the restaurant closed and I had to move out of the boarding house since a party of hunters were coming in. I had no place to stay and little funds since the person I was working with had left the island for the holiday without paying me. I caught a boat to Hyannis on Thanksgiving day and spent the night at the airport and flew down to New York the next day on a plane that Jackie Onassis was on. On arrival in Manhattan I caught a train to Toronto where I thought I might enjoy living. I stayed at the Anglican seminary to save money and explored the city. I met a few natives, but the weather was extraordinarily cold for early December, so after a week I caught a train back down to New York. I got off the train briefly in Buffalo and talked with George's father who said he was living down on Long Island working at Belmont Park. He lived only three miles from John's grandmother's house which I did not know.
On returning to Manhattan, I was totally exhausted, broke, and not feeling well. I called up my father and asked him what I should do, and he said to check into the Greenwich hospital for a physical, which I had not had in a long time. I spent a week in the hospital undergoing a physical which determined I had a protein metabolic disorder, for which I was given some pills.