Saturday, June 8, 2013

Still got it.

A February blizzard had dumped enough snow over Bryant Park to completely cover the Grinch green tables and chairs that line the lawn. It was way too early and way too cold on a Saturday morning to be walking into work. Manhattan was quiet. Just the squish of snow beneath my boots and scrape of the snow shovels hauling mounds off the sidewalks that lead up to the New York Public Library where I work.

I stopped to snap a picture of the snow. (I'm a Florida girl. I'll never get over it.) As I pointed my iPhone it struck me that it was my first time seeing the usually bustling park totally empty. It was peaceful under a frothy layer of undistrubed powder. The realization gave me a feeling I've come to know well after five years in New York. It's this satisfying wave of goose-bumpy awe that makes me grin like an idiot for a few seconds. It's the moment I recognize that I'm witnessing something only New York could ever show me.
My photo of Bryant Park

I've had that feeling since I moved here from Florida at age 23, jobless and starry-eyed. Even when I was scared or utterly uncomfortable (which was most of the time), I loved New York. Lost on the wrong subway, kept up all night by the bar beneath my East Village bedroom,  handing over every penny I earned to my landlord; even the bad felt kinda great because I was in New York. 

I'm happy to report that I've been feeling those goosebumps a lot lately. I give most of the credit to my new job managing events at the Library. The long hours have revealed a new side of the city.

When I'm at the Library really early I like to climb up to the third floor and walk through the center aisle of the Rose Main Reading Room. Every tap of my footsteps ricochets through the 2-block long cathedral of a room. I'm tiny under the mural of clouds billowing across the towering ceilings. When the Library opens the tables will crowd with visitors, but in those early morning hours the room is perfectly mine. 
My photo of the Rose Main Reading Room

When I leave the Library really late, I always ask my cab driver to take the Midtown Tunnel.  Some night's we're the only car I can see and if he speeds enough we're just a flash through the neon white tile walls. As soon as we leave the tunnel and veer onto the expressway to Brooklyn I can turn to see a twinkling panorama of the Manhattan skyline. Even when I'm exhausted, I turn my head to take it in.

And just last week while watching TV at home I realized I can see the glowing peak of the Empire State Building while laying on my couch. Like an epic night light it peers over the buildings into my living room. I now check in with it before I go to bed.

I realize other cities offer the same wonder, but I'm convinced New York does it without even trying. It is simply an amazing place to live. 

Sure, my relatinship with the city isn't always lovey dovey.  I'll find myself screaming at the cashier at a bodega for charging $10 for six tampons (true). Or I'll see a hobo pooping on a wall (also true). And I'll wonder what the hell I'm doing here. But for me, those moments pass quickly.

As I get older more friends have started talking about their exit from New York. I recognize that I may leave one day too. But I'm absolutely sure it's the best city in the world.

I guess this orange prefers apples.