Have you ever stubbornly wanted a woman even though you knew she would drive you crazy, even though you knew it was a match they wouldn’t approve in heaven, even though you knew she was like sand: the more you try to grab it, the more it slips away through your fingers?
Try to hate New York if you can.
As a (supposed to be) traveler interested in cultures, authenticity, uncontaminated stories, the Big Apple was in my list of “last places on earth I want to visit”, but I will not explain what brought me there. That page was ripped off.
I am here to tell you about New York. Just New York.
The Big Apple.
I have always wondered where that funny nickname came from.
Apparently it might refer to a brothel and in particular to its “madam”, Eve. Or to a sports journalist, J. Fitzgerald who used to call NY the Big Apple in his articles about horse-racings.
In either cases I find so fascinating the “small” origins of such a big name.
I had to walk through Her streets and meet Her people (I know, it’s gratuitous, but to my mind New York is feminine) to realize one like me can love one like Her. As curvy and noisy and greedy as She can be, She’s charming and welcoming.
My stay has been guiltily incomplete. So many things I haven’t seen or experienced. I guess my mind tends to give up at first glance when it comes down to containing such unbearable magnificence. So I walk around, abandoning any expectation of completeness.
I learned that traveling this way most likely means you are going to miss out something important in your exploring journey, but it is also the best way to let a place play its trickiest cards with you. So I just observe the time as it flows, trying to keep my balance on a fine rope hanging over the city.
I explored Manhattan as much as I could.
But I skipped the other neighborhoods: Queens, Harlem, Brooklyn (even though I walked over the bridge and explored the Brooklyn Bridge Park) and I skipped the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island.
I skipped the MOMA and the Guggenheim, but I visited the MET.
I skipped the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center but I visited the Top of the Rock.
I skipped at least one show in Broadway, but I visited Central Park.
(…Ok enough. Lists are boring).
What I certainly did was: eating good international food, finding out I love unfiltered sake, questioning random walkers and getting smiles in return (and the info I was seeking), spending one evening at the (highly recommended) 11th Street Bar with live jazz music (on Mondays only) and good Guinness beer (quite rare off Ireland), going to B&H photo and video store which is the closest thing to an amusement park for someone like me, observing and photographing random people, trying to motivate myself to make more photos without eventually succeeding, leaving tips (more than I wish I had to), doing clothes shopping (by the way, rumors are truthful: it can be cheap and easy).
New York is a high maintenance “chick”. More demanding than a princess on her Honey Moon on the moon.
When I came across a can of coke cheaper than a small bottle of water I sensed something was wrong, as well as when I realized a sandwich and a beer grabbed on the street can cost 20 bucks.
But then I figured out how to get along with this: I stopped counting.
Just stop doing the math. It hurts.
One thing I will definitely remember is the 9/11 Memorial.
As I was standing beneath Calatrava’s futuristic WTC Transportation Hub, the visual memory of the blob of dust swallowing those very streets, that “infamous” day, hit me so strong I took few moments to re-link the place I was standing by to the blinking visions filling up my mind.
The two scars water keeps falling through beneath Ground Zero are a powerfully dramatic symbol of grief and re-birth.
New York is a mosaic of so many stories, too many stories, all squeezed down in a handful of decades.
It’s a city made of different people, colors, eye shapes, skin tones, voice inflections, music styles, trends, races and cultures. And you know what? When I was there I never thought, not even for a short moment, that any of those faces belonged to a visitor, a guest. It felt like all of them, together, were New York Herself.
And as per myself… I was a visitor, I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t.
For just ten days tho, I have been one of Her gasps.
As I was there, I couldn’t stop thinking about the (too) many things I was missing. But a voice inside kept on repeating a melodic refrain: “that’s not it, this is just a first kiss”.
So, my friends, have you ever wanted a woman even tho you knew she wouldn’t suit you for a life time?
Fine! Then you know it’s not a nice feeling.
But, after all, does it really have to be forever?
Some flowers were not meant to be picked, but just to capture your senses.