Feelin’ Groovy in New York City
My perception of the enormity, diversity, energy and intensity of New York had felt daunting all these years, so I had never gone. “Oh, I can’t just go to New York for a couple of days. How can I even begin to make a dent in seeing it?! Where do I start? What are the “musts”? And all my life I had heard about the “danger” of the city and its subways so there was trepidation built up that prevented me from going. Somehow it was easier for me to move to a foreign country and speak a foreign language, than it was for me to make a trip to New York City.
I’ve flown Seattle-to-New York-to-Milan several times, never having ventured out of the JFK airport. This time I decided to stop in New York for 3 days and “dip my big toe in the water” of the city. Kind friends, Alta and Jonah, offered to let me stay in their cozy home with them in Long Island City, Queens. (Alta and I met 2 years ago in Milan through Legacy of Letters.) And dear Richard, another friend, offered to lead me on a whirlwind walking tour of the city; working for the Transit Authority, he’s in a prime position to know some obscure ins and outs of NYC. (He and I met in Sicily 3 years ago.)
It took hours to juggle and finally book 2 separate round trip tickets, and make allowances for all of the added complexity that it would heap on my travel: 1 SEA-NYC-SEA, 1 NYC-MXP-NYC. It really threw a wrench in customs, immigration, baggage handling, security, transfers, etc., but I wanted to see something of New York once-and-for-all! So I gave myself lots of “padding” in the schedule, tried to anticipate the unknowns, and booked it.
The first night, Friday May 9, Alta, Jonah and I went to a neighborhood Mexican restaurant for a bite to eat, then walked to the waterfront Gantry Plaza State Park to look across the east river to the city’s nighttime skyline. Welcome to New York! Shimmering in the fog.
(Click on the first photo to look through the images at full size and full crop.)
The next day, Saturday May 10, Alta had meetings in town, so we both hopped on the subway and then split up. I was amused as I realized that it was Milan and Paris that prepared me for New York. “Hey! I can do this. It’s familiar to me now!” I wandered, explored, walked, looked. First, I mistakenly went south to the financial district in lower Manhattan (Oops. but that’s how discoveries are made.) I then headed back up north to Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” Show. It was so inspiring! I swooned… and ordered the 10 pound book, which awaits me at home.
From MoMA, I just followed my nose south down 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, Park Avenue… the places I had always heard of. I walked the south edge of the Jackie O Reservoir in Central Park. Merely poked my head in and looked up into the Guggenheim. Found quirky things at streetside. Dodged occasional squalls by ducking into doorways. And came across a window display at Chanel that enchants me still.
I allowed myself to NOT “see all of New York”, which freed me to accept the days as they unfolded without pressure. This was a trip to break the ice.
By the end of the day, and with the sky growing gray, feet tired, ready to sit, ready to write, I was “feelin’ groovy” at the west end of the 59th Street Bridge and found a relaxed place to sit with an open window wall to the street and the storm. I had a bite to eat, a sip to drink and plenty of pages in my journal.
For the next day, Sunday, I had “signed up” for a brisk, whirlwind walking tour with Richard. He, his father and I had met at a B&B in Palermo, Sicily 3 years ago and had enjoyed exploring Palermo and Monreale together. I was finally taking him up on the offer he made then of a walking tour of New York City. We really beat feet! We started at The Highline in Chelsea, and leisurely walked from end to end. This had been a “must” on my list. (Seattle, take note of the Highline as the Viaduct comes down.) We also touched the West Village, the Abbottega Ristorante, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Little Italy, the Caffè Roma for Gelato, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Katz’s Deli, the Financial District, the Municipal Building and City Hall. Richard and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge as the afternoon waned, with plenty of time for photos, and ended in Carroll Gardens for a farewell dinner with Alta and Jonah.