I thought I’d seen New York. I thought I knew an entire city by looking through the eyes of Woody Allen, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Edward Hopper. I owned coffee table books detailing the architecture of Brooklyn, the entire MoMA collection, and every quietly iconic inch of Central Park.
I was wrong.
I had not even glimpsed New York until I stepped out of the taxi, early Sunday morning, into both a pile of slush and the most intoxicating metropolis.
While other Seattle residents went south to flee the dampness of February, my mother, father, younger sister and I chose “direct” to JFK. We rented an apartment on the Upper West Side for one week, where my view was a palette of brick walls and fire escapes. At night I climbed into my loft bed, hearing the faint sounds of Amsterdam Avenue and I imagined the lives of everyone in the city. New York has a pull, drawing in all different kinds of people and thus creating a vibrant and diverse environment, and one that I was more and more infatuated with.
On our first full day we walked through Central Park; my sister and I slipped and slid across the icy pathways with our breakfast from Absolute Bagels in hand. My dad and I were always looking up at buildings, taking photos of the architectural nuances that caught our eyes. I was captivated by the townhouses on lush, tree-lined streets off of Central Park West (West 85th Street for example), with impressive ironwork and upper-floor balconies.
As a family that appreciates art and museums, the Museum of Modern Art was at the top of our “must see” list. I stood in front of Matisse’s “L’Atelier Rouge” longer than most, appreciating the mastery of color and line but also the museum itself. I imagined a dream future: living in New York City, working for an art organization, and admiring the beauty that this places holds in my spare time. It was too cold for the garden to be open, but we looked through the windows at the sculptures and detected the serenity amidst the bustle.These pockets of peace are rare in the “city that never sleeps.”
New York state is relatively small (27th largest), yet it is the third most populated. But I don’t mind — it means there’s always something to do, always interesting people to meet.
At the Guggenheim Museum Iater on, I was stunned by Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic design and the masterpieces within (my favorite was the exposition on Kandinsky).
As we cut through Central Park, returning to our Manhattan home, the sky metamorphosized from a chilly grey to a dusty pink, causing even busy New Yorkers to stop and look up. Through the bare branches of the park’s American elms, past the skyscrapers, and above the noise, I saw New York.
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