Spaces and Stories – New York Edition

I’m honestly not sure what to write about today. However, due to my newly decided on Nanowrimo 2021 exploration and study of Spaces and Stories, I think that I could easily write 1500 words about New York since me and the husband are here right now. But where to start?

My four hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday? The way I sobbed all the way through an amazing Omakase menu at a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant? Or how I really can’t get over the design and attention to detail in this Kit Kemp designed hotel, The Crosby Street Hotel?  Or just a general ode or tale about this grand city? I’ll just write and see where I end up:

Dan and I woke up early as hell this morning to do what we love. It somehow makes the dark mornings easier and not really a pain point. He drove off to Hoboken, NJ to shoot the sunrise and the New York City skyline together. And I am here, in this gorgeous, luxury hotel soaking up all the luxuriousness of it that I can before our late check out at 2pm. We will be leaving way sooner than that, however, since we need to be home by the time the kids get off the bus for school.

I want to stay here in NY and spend more time in the city. The pandemic has made me painfully miss being in spaces other than my home. This city oozes magic. And trash juice. But just walking out of the hotel doors at 6am to find coffee felt like an adventure.

It took me back to when I was in my 20s and used to leave our apartment in Brooklyn a few times a week at 4am to open the gym where I worked at the time, New York Sports Club. I walked exactly one mile to get there and it usually took around twenty minutes depending on how quickly I needed to arrive. The mornings that were 40 degrees or below I would just drive over. It was worth it to circle the blocks a few times looking for nearby parking, and then to have a secluded, quiet spot to take my allotted break time in. I fondly remember being alone, people watching, and eating some kind of delicious bagel sandwich.

When I’m here visiting, I always miss living in New York. I miss the plethora of places to eat, experiences to have, and people to meet. I miss the way you develop tight friendships that feel more like family in order feel like you are part of something. I miss the late mornings and late nights vibe of the city. The energy, the pace, the closed in feeling in a massive city. I miss the contrasts: the new, the luxuriousness and opulence mixed with the old, poor and rundown. I miss the excitement of no one group, culture, or stereotype being the majority  where ever you go; the self-important, the high powered, the celebrities that mingle with the newly relocated foreign, the homeless, and all of the nobodies.

The amount of smells you experience walking down a New York City block is equivalent to the way excellent food has a flavor profile. It isn’t meant to be ignored. First, you’ll get the strong stench of hot trash melting in the morning sun, then you’ll smell the restaurant you walk by, someone’s expensive perfume, and the dirty steam from the subway that will waft all the way up from your ankles to your nose. You’ll get the dry smell of old brick and mortar when you walk by construction sites and after the rain you’ll get that wet, city sidewalk and asphalt smell. When is snows, however, the only smell that is strong enough to permeate the thick blankets-even during a snow storm-is, unfortunately, trash.

There are, of course, a few things I don’t miss about New York. I don’t miss living on top of or below or surrounded by neighbors. I really do enjoy having space, and there just isn’t enough to go around in the city. In the ‘burbs, I love having the ability to lay out in the sun in my backyard without worrying what creepy neighbors might be leering. I love being able to sit outside and hear nothing but the birds and the breeze.

While I know I mentioned enjoying the energy and pace, but living here, it can be sometimes exhausting. People here don’t leave their homes without spending at least a little bit of energy getting dressed up or thinking about how they look, because you never know who you’ll run into. There is something about the way nature lets you live in the moment and slow down, but New York has very little of it to offer. It’s imperative to get out and take breaks from the city in order to slow down and remove yourself from the hustle and bustle that you can easily get caught up in.

Because of its small size, you won’t spend a lot of time inside your apartment. It will leave you feeling small and cramped, too, so you leave and spend a lot of time out and about. You have to walk everywhere, and while it is fantastic exercise, it too, can be exhausting. You have to think ahead in order to get your groceries, your meals, your shopping, your mail, to get to work, to meet with friends. Being late in this city is entirely acceptable, and to a person like me who likes to be somewhere when they say they will, it is also exhausting to have to try your absolute best (and thanks to the subway your absolute best is still not good enough garbage) to follow through.

For an introvert, the sheer amount of peopling you do in New York on a daily basis is rough. Despite the real possibility of being lonely in a big city, you still have to do those tiny interactions throughout any given day to survive here. I suppose that’s why its not cool to make eye contact with people on the sidewalk or to make conversation on the subway where you are trapped for any given amount of time. New Yorkers need a break from interaction and if they had to do it everyday on the subway, too (the way the person next to you on an airplane feels the need to get to know you)…they would lose their minds. Or maybe that’s just me.

When we were driving through the Upper West Side to get to the Met yesterday, I asked the husband if he wanted to get an apartment here so we could visit and stay more often. He responded by saying he’d rather spend the money on new sneakers. I agreed. I like the idea, but I think I can enjoy the city more if it weren’t taking from me. And I think the only way I can do that at the moment is visit and take what I can from it during short visits instead.

I love the short visits. Like the time when me and the kids came and spent a snowy weekend seeing Wicked on Broadway. We shopped in Times Square and ate in a restaurant that was a ninja village with servers that would jump out and scare you every five minutes. It was delightfully awful and the kids loved it.

Or the short visit with Sharon where we ate and drank cocktails at a beautiful roof top garden hotel with fantastic views of the city, then went to see Hadestown town on Broadway, or the time we brought our husbands and celebrated my birthday visiting fun cocktail bars and eating an amazing sushi dinner, or the time we visited for her birthday and saw Moulin Rouge while Nicole Kidman and her country singing husband sat a few rows behind us. Or the day we spent here around Christmas with my brother and his family. We ate at the restaurant where the servers randomly belt out show tunes while you eat, then went to see the Rockettes while we enjoyed the way the buildings decorated themselves for the holidays.

I enjoyed being a small part of New York for a while. But now, I enjoy being a small part of New York for a small amount of time. New York will always have a place in my heart, especially since my oldest was born here in Brooklyn. She was what helped us decide we were ready to leave find more space for us to grow as a family.

Perhaps living here at the time in my life when I was newly married and childless was my New York Story, but the trips I take to visit now are my New York Short Stories or my New York Essays. I would love to return one day to create new spaces and stories in hotels and buildings like this one, creating the scenes, backdrop, or atmosphere for other peoples stories or essays they will tell.