Ahh, New York.
If you’ve ever been there once, and return some time later, New York city wraps you up and carries you with familiarity, and a little adventure as well.
Last visit, we were domiciled in Times Square. A good idea at the time, but never again.
This time, it was uptown, West 116th Street, kissing the edge of Harlem, up the road from Columbus Circle, off the top left edge of Central Park.
New York city, for its Leviathan status, is easy to to get around; uptown? downtown? midtown? and so on.
We were uptown this time.
And it felt good to be hanging out with the real deal. Police surveillance happening from parked cars outside our address, the episodic wail of emergency services, and life ticking along in the midst of it all; kids going to and from school, the homeless guy perpetually asleep on a stool outside the entrance to the subway, a Starbucks paper cup in his hand, that never dropped to the ground.
Peace and tranquility in Central Park, as it was originally meant to be, a sanctuary from the working man’s grind, still now a haven from the wail and noise of midtown Manhattan.
If you really want the hurly burly, go downtown a half dozen stops, via the hub of Columbus Circle, to Times Square, and get a dose of neon and noise.
Take a hike down to The Battery, and go quietly to the 911 Memorial. Reflect on loss, and the capacity within tragedy for the ordinary person to feel connected by random acts of fear.
Tuck in your elbows, and walk the Brooklyn Bridge, now a tourist mecca, but still a commuting thoroughfare, iconic in its lace-like marvel of engineering.
Take a deep breath, and be welcomed at Tiffany’s. Buy a little something, and be looked after by a gracious member of the sales team, curious and excited for our travel itinerary, who, when finding out she was serving visitors from Australia, quietly whispered her discontent with the commercial neighbour next door: ‘You know, the police are there all the time, and he’s visited only a few times since the election.’
Food? Go where the people go, whether it’s Katz’s Deli (been operating since the 1880s)….
Or Casa Nonna, in the entertainment district, just a block or two across from Broadway, after you’ve had the most wonderful night out, singing along to Donna Murphy doing Hullo Dolly.
And of course, you might climb Lady Liberty, coming out in the region of her pineal gland, reflecting on the purpose and symbolism of such an icon.
It was freedom and liberty that defined New York city at the start of the century. It’s timely to reflect on such principles, especially now.