Having grown up in Minnesota and staying here to create a rich and full life with my partner Mick, kids Shawn and Abby, daughter-in-law Beka, granddaughter Camille, and a circle of amazing friends, you might think that I’m all set. Content. Rooted.
And I am all those things. But my life-long love affair with New York City has never waned, not from the time I was 10. I chose to write a report on New York in fifth grade, when we were assigned our first term paper about a place. I wrote to the New York Chamber of Commerce as part of my research and they sent me a fat manilla envelope of brochures. The brochures arrived after my term paper was due, but I kept them for a long time. Later, when I was 13 or 14, my parents drove from Minnesota to New York one summer. We stayed on the outskirts of the city, took a train into Grand Central Station, hopped on a tour bus. We didn’t stay nearly as long as I wanted, but we did see an awful lot in two days. I remember how hot and humid it was, how my mom was not so thrilled about the steps up inside the Statue of Liberty. But none of that mattered; I was smitten. Yes, there is noise, traffic, crowds, and harsh conditions for those who have nothing. This is life in a large city, any large city. There is still much to love and this is my list.
I love the old buildings juxtaposed with new, how St. Francis of Assisi Church on 31st Street offers sanctuary in a stunning building only steps away from the rush of Penn Station, how The Halal Guys seem to be on every street corner in Manhattan, the soft light on the High Line in late afternoon, music performed (with suggested donations of course) in the subways, having drinks in Bryant Park, the surprise of a full moon between buildings while walking up 7th Avenue after dark, the kindness of people who will help a visitor get on the correct subway line if asked, and the multitude of Irish pubs where it’s easy to get a table and a drink. I love the pigeons who sit on every statue and light pole, the way workmen at job sites laugh with each other in the middle of the day, the lines of all kinds of people getting coffee together in the morning, bike messengers who defy death to weave through traffic in Times Square, men in business suits on motorized scooters at rush hour, how the seemingly impossible traffic snarls eventually untangle. I love seeing families on the subway, listening to the assortment of languages heard on the street, tasting foods from as many different shops and restaurants as possible, stepping into small bookstores with books crammed into every inch of space. I love having lunch at a place with tables outside so I can watch everything around me. I love being in a city where there are so many, many choices.
My most recent visit was just last week, when my friend Luann and I spent a few days running around Manhattan with a little foray into Brooklyn. Our favorite thing was a food tour of Greenwich Village, where we sampled pizza, olive oil, quinoa salad, melanzana, cannoli, cheese, chocolate chip cookies, and more. We also visited the Tenement Museum, where we did a tour that taught us about the history of the building and showed us some restored apartments. As always, the time flew by and it seemed like I had to go home too soon.
But I’ll be back. I’m hanging on to my Metro card for the next time.