Last week was spent in New York City and its environs. We stayed uptown in Harlem, in the chic-for-cheap Aloft, and spent a good deal of time running up and down the A, or the B, or the D, or the 1, or…well, we got back and forth to Union Square quite a bit. Illness slowed us up some, as did an unexpected blast from the past when we met up three times with one of my best friends from high school, as did weather and rain. But we did get a lot of things accomplished, among which:
* Sleep No More. About this more later, except that it was everything I could have hoped for; I just wish I’d had the sense my wife had to find out WHAT it was based on first.
* The Cathedral of St John the Divine, the incomplete Gothic monster in Morningside Heights that gives us something with the heft and throw-weight to keep up with the great cathedrals of Europe. Which was oddly more affecting than I expected it to be, which I guess is the definition of art…
* The new park known as the High Line, where nature invaded the old overhead train tracks for thirty years only to be tamed into a unique park running up the lower part of the west side of Manhattan. Never seen anything like it, and I love it.
* Brooklyn. From the top of a cold bus on a windy day and only briefly, but nevertheless Brooklyn, and on the eve of the formal announcement of the Brooklyn Nets.
* The view from the top of Rockefeller Center, which is better than from the Empire State Building, not least because you can see the Empire State Building.
* Million Dollar Quartet, which as it turns out we could have waited to see in San Jose – but was totally worth a trip just for the closing shot. If you know the history of rock ‘n roll, you know the one.
* Grand Central Station, complete with pics of Vanderbilt Avenue, a Magnolia cupcake (which is NYC’s way of saying “look, we all want to eat a huge gob of straight frosting but it’s starting to look bad”) and Mendy’s pastrami (which I had the presence of mind not to try to order with Swiss this time). And Junior’s cheesecake, because nom.
But the biggest thing was just being in New York again – in my case, almost eight years to the day precisely since the weekend I proposed to my now-wife. Since then, my world has opened up even more, with moving to Silicon Valley and spending time in San Francisco and going to London three times. New York City has moved into that space where DC now resides and where I think New Orleans may have always been for me: a semi-mythical place made more so by the sense that it contains years and history going back to well before the Spanish set up that mission in Yerba Buena. (A sense made stronger by reading a lot of Herbert Asbury and also Gotham again.) A place where I know I’ve been (and in the case of DC, lived) and spent some quality time, but with a sort of museum-Disneyland quality to it. I know that everyone who goes to New York starts wondering within 24 hours whether they could live there, but for the first time, I don’t think I got the urge. And my wife definitely didn’t, gluten-free potstickers and Italian food notwithstanding.
In fact, if there was an overarching theme to the week (and the weekend), it was about tying up loose ends and drawing a line under the past. Having gotten home, the urge to live in the now is fairly strong. Which I suppose is a good thing in any event.