“On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy….The capacity to make such dubious gifts is a mysterious quality of New York. It can destroy an individual, or it can fulfil him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.”-E.B. White
New York City is movement and light, the ride from JFK into the city a quick-paced journey by cab, a mirror of the streets to come and the dance of pedestrians on busy sidewalks. An experience of NYC can not be summarized in a city-guide. City-guides are helpful but NYC is a place to stumble across and discover by happenstance. Would we have found that belly-warming Ethiopian restaurant, Bunna Cafe, while vintage hunting in East Williamsburg if we hadn’t suddenly recognized our Hangry state? Probably not. NYC is a food mecca and marvelling at a chance encounter with a tantalizing burger is part of the joy of wondering the streets of the city. Food allergies do not impose limitations on gastronomical experiences in NYC either. Dairy-free and gluten-free options are abundant and we needed both.
A museum and art gallery guide in NYC will only take you so far as well. Regardless of current exhibits, if you’re not an art aficionado, it is still essential to stand before a master piece and soak in either the message or material, moulded by the hand of it’s creator. I study art exhaustively, primarily living through Library art catalogues of past exhibits. Viewing the Kerry James Marshall exhibit at the Met Breuer was a chance for me to study his stroke, his application of sparkle and use of bold colours. For Della, his message; his gaze into the lives of the African-American community knocked her socks off. In the Whitney and Brooklyn Museum I statued in front of two of my favourite portrait painters, Alice Neel and Elizabeth Peyton, and attempted to soak up their talent by proximity. Seeing art first hand is like breathing clean, fresh air. It’s life giving.
If you’re a visitor to NYC maintaining a joie de vivre while taking wrong trains and turns will make you’re stay all the more enjoyable. It will force you to seek the help of locals who despite their work-day fatigue, will point you in the right direction. Joie de vivre is also the ingredient for maintaining the peace with your travel companion when you lock yourself out of your Brooklyn apartment with the stove on. Relying on the grace of your hosts is unavoidable. We stayed at a friend’s place in Greenpoint, shared with three other roommates. They graciously allowed us to use their kitchen and fire alarm. They didn’t kick us out when I pounded out my Kayla Itsines Workout on their living room floor in NYC off hours.
I strolled through Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Barricades were already going up and police were gathering in groups around the perimeter. Businesses surrounding the square were closed. Despite the potential for an ominous environment the square was Selfie Central and the crowds were jazzed, unbeknownst that the Mariah Carry mishap was still to come. If not for my printed theatre ticket I wouldn’t have made it back through the barricades to the Barrymore. Oh the theatre! Cate Blanchett on Broadway! I’ve spent years reading The New Yorker, envious as I’ve missed some of my favourite screen actors hit the stage in NYC. When The New Yorker announced Cate Blanchett starring in The Present, an adaptation of an Anton Chekhov play, written by her husband Andrew Upton I bought a ticket at warp speed. The beauty of buying a single ticket is guaranteed good seating. My observations of Cate Blanchett, close-up, in the flesh:
1. You have to remember that viewing theatre is different than watching an actor through the lens of a camera that can zoom in and catch the most minutiae details. On stage movements and voice are exaggerated. It’s theatrical. Body positioning is exact and purposeful.
2. Cate Blanchett is lithe and moves with a fluidity that belies regular humans doing the day-to-day grind. You realize that this fluidity is essential for a stage actress. A slight stiffness in gait or bend of the shoulders translates to the character, communicating things to the audience which may not be true in the story.
3. Cate Blanchett is luminous. Maybe it’s her skin care regime, maybe she really is an elf queen.
Would it be worth it to travel to NYC just to see your favourite actor on Broadway? Yes.
The best guide to NYC is one you create yourself. Plan your trip around an art exhibit, a restaurant opening, a stage performance. Let everything else fall into place as you get swept up in the bustle and beauty.
Della visited NYC to find home. I visited NYC to get lost to my senses. NYC met every expectation.