Last week I drove up the I-95 for nearly six hours in the dumping rain to good ol’ homey New York. And granted, I am mostly a suburbanite with three years experience living in the big bad city, but I never get tired of driving around the bend past Newark and seeing the Manhattan skyline glowing in the distance beyond New Jersey. While living there in my early, poor 20’s, my friends and I would be walking around somewhere, and all at once we’d sigh and have “a New York moment”, where we just loved, LOVED the city with all our hearts. Enough to pour all our meager salaries into the ridiculous rents and hammer up drywall to build a separate bedroom out of the living room so we could split a one-bedroom apartment three or four ways. I admit in all the other cities I’ve ever lived in, and perhaps because I’ve since grown up and stopped watching the WB/ CW, I’ve never once had quite a heart-surging moment like those in New York.
Last week I went back for a few meetings with some editors of different publications to discuss freelance work, and re-discovered a few of my favorite New York things that used to give me those seizures. The grass is always greener, however, because there were plenty of things that drove me out of New York, but these are just a few, if ever in New York, that would tug me carefully back.
Pastrami on bagel. For the first time, I got a whole wheat bagel. I’m not sure I ever ate a whole wheat bagel in my whole life, but I ordered it on whole wheat only because my friend Deana did and it was incredible. I topped the lean pastrami with lettuce, tomato, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
The 4-5-6. Believe me, I used to despise the east side transit, but I never had to deal with its packedness as my other east-side friends did because I was a West sider. However, I always found the 4-5-6 train to be annoying for no particular reason other than there was no other way to get around the east side. For the first time this past trip, I took the 4 all the way to the end. I was staying with my aunt and uncle up in Westchester, but they live only 10 minutes from the Woodlawn station, so rather than hassle with Metro-North’s train schedules, I hopped on the subway for $2.00 and rode 35 minutes to Union Square. No mess at Grand Central, no fishing for my train ticket with the conductor hovering over me. I used to hate the subway, but now I really like it.
The West Village. I spent many a night exploring the bar scene with my NYU law school friends who lived down there, but rarely the daytime. I also always get lost whenever there are no numbered streets left. But there I was, wandering along by Sushi Samba (87 7th Ave. at Barrow St.) (another great memory of martini lunches and spider rolls on their eclectic rooftop) when I discovered just how adorable the West Village could be. There was a stretch of row houses, very DC and Baltimore-like, along Christopher Street. I later had dinner with my friends at a French Michelin-rated restaurant, Cafe Loup (105 W. 13th St at 6th Ave.), which has a prix-fixe menu with large portions.
Central Park. This was my saving grace when living in a very cement-and-asphalt concrete jungle. I always entered through the 72nd Street entrance on the west side, specifically, at Strawberry Fields with its tribute to John Lennon, towards the fountain where I ran my stairs and back by the theater shell where Paul confronts Doc Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. I spent many an afternoon crowding the grassy lawn at Sheep’s Meadow, so named because of all the roaming New Yorkers hunting for a patch of green space to flock.