I spent the last weekend hanging out in New York City with my boyfriend, Sam. It has been on my travel to do list for about twenty years now, give or take a couple, due to my love of Balto and the discovered knowledge of a statue erected of him that existed in Central Park. My reasons for wanting to travel there have multiplied over time, of course, but the desire to go has never lessened.
As someone who somehow simultaneously had high expectations yet had no idea what to expect, I was beyond excited.
New York didn’t do me wrong.
I could list the things I did in New york, day by day. I could list the buildings I saw or the people I passed. I could list the moments of uncomfortable amusement (ranting man on the subway, I’m looking at you) or sheer joy I experienced. I could do these things one by one, describing each and every moment, but I don’t think that is the right way to speak about a city like New York. When a place gives you an all-encompassing feeling of so many things all at once, you can only describe your experience as a whole.
The streets of New York are exciting, energized. The constant honking of horns and bustle of people, tourists and locals alike, account for the overwhelming hum in the air. The buildings are tall but somehow not domineering yet perhaps this is due more to the fact that I come from a city myself. The only place I felt that the buildings were unnecessary powerful, almost too tall and too close and too much, was Wall Street. What a surprise. But that didn’t take away from its architecture – the columns, the stone, the marble, the statues, the engraving and pride in every block.
The buildings held history, not just on Wall Street but everywhere, that the buildings in Toronto lack. Here in Toronto we have a tendency to tear down to build up, replace the old with the new and turn buildings into unused heritage sites that do little more than sit there, rather forgotten. In New York there is pride in the history of their architecture, of their city, that I am envious of. Even the facade of the H&M is stunning, preserved over time no matter what currently occupies it. The only place I felt as if I were truly in a city like mine was in Times Square, where shine and dazzle and new prevails.
Otherwise, it was brownstones and history and awe.
I saw Balto. I nearly cried tears of joy. This isn’t even remotely a joke. Have you ever had a dream that you’ve held since childhood come true? It may sound silly, but it’s not: seeing that statue has been in my mind since I was a very young girl and this past weekend I not only saw it but stood beside it, touched it, have photographic evidence of it. There aren’t many times in your life you can feel that way.
Sam and I saw two amazing jazz shows at the Blue Note after wandering our way through Greenwich Village and Soho. Record shops and bakeries and fashion (Ted Baker, why do you have to swell my heart with beauty then break it with prices?) and wonder, followed by saxophones and organs and guitars and harmonicas – it doesn’t get much better. Stop by the Strand Bookstore on the way home and pick up some books (of course) and your day has never been more wonderful.
Laduree and Bouchon and Empire and Milk and Cookies and Levain: thank you for making amazing pastries that I could hardly forget about if I tried. I don’t know about you but walking down Madison Avenue with a pistachio macaron from Laduree among the fur-coated and chauffer-driven is something I would never trade in.
I came home from New York last night with new jeans, a new sweater, new shoes, new books on my shelf, plenty of photos, somehow even more in love with my boyfriend and with an utterly grateful heart. It pains me to say but after months of bickering with Sam about my love for Toronto, pitted against his complete indifference, I can see why he feels the way he does after seeing a city like New York (and London): last night was one of the first times I wasn’t fully elated to see my city’s skyline upon coming home from a trip.
There is something about New York. Something you don’t understand until you’ve been there. I could have sat on a bench for half the trip in the same park and I would have felt something. But instead there was the High Line, Chelsea Market, World Trade Center Memorial, Staten Island Ferry, the skyline in the distance, the subways, the Met (Van Gogh! Lichentenstein! Mummies!), the library and everything else in between.
New York, if I saw you again tomorrow I would have waited too long.