New York City
Where to start?
I have been feeling pretty lousy the last few days. First I blamed it on jet lag after a red eye flight back from Seattle on Sunday. Then I thought I was coming down something. Five days later, I was still feeling lousy. I wasn’t excited to pack ginormous suitcase for this combined New York (job interviews) + Paris (annual pilgrimage) trip. I wasn’t excited on the train ride up from Cville. I felt a million miles away when I waited for a cab outside Penn Station. But it’s New York City! How can I not be excited? How can I not be energized? I have been to NYC quite a few times, I know parts of the city fairly well, I have always loved roaming Midtown, finding calm Upper West Side streets, and gawking at the hipsters with envy in the East Village. Do I no longer love the city? Have I stopped being curious?
I have spent the last 2 days obsessing over those very questions. I obsessed over it while walking the streets of East Harlem (a first), on the bus over to Washington Heights (also a first), during my interview at Columbia (another first), in my tiny but cozy East Harlem temporary home (definitely a first).
Today I have no interview, so I took the 4 train to Midtown. The plan was to get a ticket to see Once, the musical adapted from the amazing 2006 movie and winner of 8 Tonys – see you tonight Steve Kazee love – and do some work/writing at the New York Public Library (NYPL). On the subway ride down, I was still feeling utterly detached from the city – how can one feel absent when packed tighter than on the subway? Stepping out of Grand Central Station, I walked quickly – because this is how one escapes the tourist label in the city – over to 45th street, crossing Times Square and distantly registering that it was already filling up with tourists. I got to the theater, stood in line, and got the last cheap-ish mezzanine seat for tonight’s show. I stopped a few feet away from the theater to look at my ticket and it just hit it me. I was no longer obsessing about feeling present and striving to feel excited about being in the city. I was present. I was gleeful. I was excited. I had stopped thinking and started engaging.
Walking back through Time Square, I could finally see the beauty of it all. I could see plenty of bright-eyed tourists, but there was so much more to see. The city employee watering potted trees in the middle of Times Square, the only breathing creatures amidst a jungle of bright but dead neon signs. The mother of two huddling her twin girls dressed in matching riding boots and pink fluffy hats, styrofoam cups of steaming hot cocoa in their hands. The elderly woman confidently pushing her walker forward at the 42nd and Broadway crosswalk. The construction worker hanging precariously like puppet from high in the sky steel beams. The kids falling on their butts while ice skating at The Pond in Bryant Park.
I should have known it was only a matter of time until the city re-claimed me.
This is New York after all.