Monday, February 18, 2008

Home Again

So long, New York
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
My last night and morning in New York were quite pleasant.

After the conference ended, I made a quick beeline downtown to shop for high-end chocolate at a couple of shops in SoHo. I also managed a tour of Sephora for two shades of eyeliner. A well-timed subway ride back uptown for a long dinner with my friend Cathleen at a swanky Greek place near Grand Central. The single retsina on the menu had no discernible pine tar aftertaste much to my dismay and there was no dessert cart, but the many fish choices were brought in a lovely copper dish tableside, where the waiter point-and-stroked them to rival Vanna. My friend walked me back to the hotel…there was a moment when we paused on the way in the middle of Times Square, cabs and cars and tourists whizzing by, neon enough to rival the sun, and I remembered why living in New York felt like the closest I'd ever come to inhabiting the center of the universe, even if it was only center by association rather than who I was or what I was doing.

I stayed up late packing, but got up the next morning in time to take a quick if chilly hoof uptown through Central Park, by Wollman Rink and the iced-over Pond to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had my priorities straight and after checking my coat went right to the Museum shop and only afterwards continued on to the Temple of Dendur and then downstairs to the Costume Institute. Yes, only an hour in one of the greatest repositories of art and culture in the world, but if anyone can do it, it's me.

A bus ride back downtown, passing the fur-bearing Rockefeller Center and Tiffany's window-shopping set; glimpsing the reconstruction shrouded St. Patrick's cathedral; a glittering crosstown walk through the Diamond District to the hotel to collect my bags; a friendly, God-thanking-filled cab ride to JFK; and I was back to my bumpkin self again, ensconced in the airport bar with a black-and-tan at lunch, laptop open to ward off a few of the email messages that won't stop piling up. There were a few colleagues in the airport including one on my flight West, which meant I was able to eschew the airport shuttle bus for a much more pleasant and speedy ride home.


I wasn't able to find a way to fit it into my travelogue, but one thing that struck me about my visit this time: I appreciated the people again. I had several occasions to smile to myself, seeing couples on the street, kissing with verve and abandon, unselfconscious in their newfound passion. Watching people on the subway cars, eyes downcast as proper New Yorkers do, but crammed together and so having to actually touch the shoulders of strangers, to sway against each other as the train sped and slowed, and then to give way as people exited or boarded. Dodging the streams of people changing trains in Times Square and Grand Central, negotiating the great currents of humanity with intentions and dreams and desperation, striding towards each other both with and without purpose. To observe again in the space of mere moments every strata of class, from homeless to stratospherically wealthy, somehow living together on a very small stretch of granite between two rivers and the Atlantic, where every inch is known and claimed, and has been for generations. But it's also a place that is still discovered, over and over again, where a struggle to survive seems closer to the surface than most places, for all its civilization…for someone who professes a dislike of drama, perhaps I'm missing the front-row seat a bit after all.


It felt like it took a little extra time, but I've readjusted to suburban life. The roses are pruned. Taxes done for the year. Dog walked, suits aired in the sun, the cat has loudly demanded and received appropriate lap time. More of the beret has been knitted, but I do not like small needle projects, I've decided. A number of movies have been watched. Cough is still hanging on peskily, but I hope to have it licked by the end of the week. And today I purchased a plane ticket for my next trip, to San Diego in early March. Hardly the center of the universe, but there's a pool at the hotel that's built to resemble a tropical lagoon…


M Health Update: It was hard to hear that he went into the ER while I was in New York and helpless to take action, but it's comforting to know that Mom and our friend Sean were here to help. He wasn't admitted then, and wasn't admitted again when we arrived in the ER at 7:00 a.m. last Saturday because of increased pain. Instead, he was sent home with a fistful of meds (ten more days of antibiotics, painkillers, and others to help with the side effects of antibiotics), which has already started to help him feel better. The big question now is when will the surgery happen. Time to remember my New Year's resolution about breathing deeply.


At 7:05 AM, February 19, 2008, Blogger elm said...

Thank you for the descriptions of your trip, NYC. I enjoy your writing immensely. a.j.

At 1:21 PM, February 19, 2008, Blogger jbird said...

Hey Sis,
Missed you guys at the coast! Maybe this spring? I'm glad M getting better, Mom sprung into action when M called!
Also, i wanted to say i agree w/ AJ, you write so smooth and beautiful!little Bro


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