I’m in love with two New York’s.
There’s New York City, where everything seems bigger, bolder, tastier and more alive. When I look out a window in NYC, it feels like life is moving by at the speed of light. And when I lie in bed, the rhythms of the city lull me to sleep. A siren here and a taxi horn there. It’s like my very own urban lullaby.
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But there’s also New York State, which can feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. More specifically, I’m talking about Chautauqua County, a little place tucked away in the western corner of the state. Rolling hills and pastures full of corn and wheat dot the horizon and small homes with inviting front porches make you wonder if Norman Rockwell dropped his paintbrush across the whole landscape. When I lie in bed here, only the sound of crickets and the occasional passing car break up the stillness of the night.
In my opinion, it’s not really possible to love New York until you’ve experienced all this place has to offer. I’m lucky enough to have family in both New York City and Chautauqua, and my visits there have been some of the most memorable trips of my life.
I recently traveled to New York City to visit my cousin, who’s currently a sophomore at NYU. From his apartment in the East Village, I got to experience NYC from the perspective of somebody who lived and studied within the city’s embrace.
We met for lunch at Motorino, a pizza place that provided a formidable beginning to my weekend in NYC. Their Brussel sprout pizza was so insanely delicious that it made me wonder how a generation of picky eaters could find that vegetable so intimidating. We shopped in SoHo, visited my uncle at his office in Times Square and checked out a post-modern exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Getting to see works from some of the newest and most cutting edge figures on the art scene today was definitely a highlight of the trip.
But there’s a whole different side of New York that I’ve gotten to experience every summer since I was two. My trips to Chautauqua are always memorable, and though it may not be as fast-paced and frenetic a place as NYC, it really has its own unique vibe. No trip there is complete without a visit to the Chautauqua Institution, a historic educational center and resort town that draws thousands of visitors every summer. It’s a place so delightfully lost in time with its ice cream parlors, pick-up baseball games and small boutiques that I sometimes find myself forgetting what year I’m in. However, as a devoted sports fan, my favorite summertime ritual has to be sitting in the stands at Russell E. Diethrick, Jr. Park and watching the local minor league baseball team, the Jamestown Jammers. My dad and I have spent many summer nights here, watching baseball players with big league dreams play against teams with names like the Muckdogs and the Ironbirds. Tickets cost only $5.
New York is a diverse and eclectic state that offers the best of both big city and small town life. Simply put, New York’s got something for everybody. During my trips here, whether I’m in NYC or Chautauqua, I’m reminded of the Billy Joel song that captures the New York experience better than perhaps any other: “I don’t have any reasons, I’ve left them all behind. I’m in a New York state of mind.”
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