Wednesday, November 9, 2022

NYC (Briefly)




October 11, 2022
I recently spent a day in NYC, a 24-hour stop before a week-long trip to London. I hadn't visited NYC since 2020, just a few weeks before COVID-19 shut the world down, and so much has - obviously - happened since then. I used to love the city and was afraid that in the years between then and now something would have shifted and I wouldn't enjoy the city anymore.

And initially, that fear seemed realized. I landed in JFK and mad-dashed my way from airport to hotel, hotel to train station, and train station to Manhattan in the worst and ugliest forms of transportation. I was then on foot, which meant, since I was dropped off at Penn Station, spending most of the day in midtown, the worst section of Manhattan. 
But by mid-afternoon, the early morning travel had caught up to me and I decided to camp out in Central Park rather than stay on the move. I sat on my jacket in the grass for two hours, reading a book and people-watching. And it was then that I realized I had changed in the in-between years, in ways I hadn't expected and likely wouldn't have discovered otherwise. I'm now in my late 20s, and as I age there's been an internal shift towards a self-confidence and way of carrying myself in the world that makes me less likely to chase things, or force them, or be so worried about missing out. Whereas Old Me would have looked at my limited hours in the city and scrambled to fit as much in as possible, Present Day Me is now far more okay with enjoying the moment, even at the expense of missing out on something else. And so, I spent a happy two hours stationary in the park.

I met up with a friend in the late afternoon and we continued the slow pace. We spent the rest of the day in the Upper West Side, one of my favorite neighborhoods, first sharing a savory crepe, then drinking glasses of zinfandel (the best I've ever had) at Vanguard, then splitting guacamole and tacos at Rosa Mexicana before heading back to our hotel and settling in for an early night before our big flight the next day.

And so, my fear for NYC wasn't entirely realized after all. I've never harbored a dream of moving to NYC - it's too dirty and loud and wildly inconvenient for me - but my love for the city isn't gone, it's just evolved. I've been enough times, I've seen enough of it repeatedly that it acts as a mirror - a repeated action that allows me to see how I've changed each time I visit.
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