I am writing without having coffee yet, my first challenge of the day. We are here in NYC and I have a myriad of thoughts pounding inside of my overstimulated head, so I will put them here. I am enchanted with this city that never sleeps, while exhausted from its endless energy and insistence to push through more discovery and adventure while overlooking opportunities for rest.
It is not that kind of place; it is not the quintessential vacations to Florida where you drop your bags in the spotless condo and instinctively follow the soothing call of the ocean as your bulky thoughts are pushed aside by the enigmatic sound of the sea breeze and you turn into just a being whose only purpose is sensual. Not here. Here, you are always on “go” and here you exist within a microcosm of the world. It is intense.
On my first visit to NYC, when I was Elizabeth’s age, it seemed different. There was more definition of neighborhoods, it was before Little Italy got absorbed by Chinatown and when the Empire State Building claimed that exclusive title in the skyline. Now, the lines are a bit smeared and the iPhone has taken the place of paper maps and curious looks as you asked directions from friendly restaurant workers and enigmatic people on the street. The dynamics have changed, but everything must move in some new direction whether it is good or not, we must move.
Of course, Elizabeth knows nothing of those days when Kathy and I stayed at the Royalton Hotel because it was “affordable”, before it evolved into the 4 star boutique hotel it is now as it still sits on 44th Street but with well suited doormen instead of wooden windows we could raise and she doesn’t know how unadulterated it was to actually see Starry Night at the Modern because, then, there were no virtual You Tube tours and horrible van Gogh images on coffee mugs; there were only bad pictures in my art history books, seeing it for real actually made you cry. I have since gone back and stood before that painting wanting that same emotion but it wasn’t there, we have been so polluted with virtual images that when things are real, they don’t really feel real. Anyway, that is just a foolish negative comment I wanted to take note of and leave behind; New York City is wonderful. It knows how to change and evolve and remain the City of the World.
I try to get a feeling of the people here; they are all different but there must be some funneled down feeling of why they are drawn here to this most unique cosmos of overdone life, to this place that has so much to give but it is all so difficult to achieve, this place that never stops as it wears you out, this place where life can change on a dime or where the days turn to years and you are still here as your dream becomes a lost vision of youth. It is perplexing to me.
I will join Elizabeth on the surface and just enjoy the sights and sounds and try to see this experience as she does, a place to absorb and to collect life, a stop in the road, to open life up, to split it down the middle and take it all in and move on…I think I am describing youth, oh well, let me throw the word “vicarious” in this scramble of expectations to make the pieces fit a bit better.
I can’t seem to end this post without a, perhaps cliché, 911 moment. I had one yesterday. Jon and I were walking in Soho and as with most places, the One World Trade Center appeared and suddenly, it was a “Starry Night” moment for me, it was a transcending thought driven by pure emotion. I somehow realized that the way “it” happened was so abrupt, people were just walking along in life and the lights went out, just like that. I could feel that second as I walked alongside of Jon and watched Elizabeth ahead of us, unexpectedly, innocence was lost forever.
I know that no matter how much we live on the surface, that no matter how much we try to distract ourselves with superficiality and illusion, reality waits and it will always exist.
I end with the innocence from my first trip in 1974 and I begin this day with a true love for America’s city.