Friday, April 9, 2010

The Farewell Tour

(photo take by Francisco Cuevas )

I'm back in New York on what I originally called my "Goodbye Tour," but am now changing it to my "Farewell Tour," because I refuse to say goodbye to this town. I may only be back in love with New York because I've returned in the best time of year when she's clearly been spit and polished a bit. Flowers are blooming, the sun is out and even the grouchy ladies at the Fairway Market on the Upper West Side have a tiny skip in their step. Fine by me though, I'm perfectly happy feeling such infatuation with the City while I'm "on tour".

The good news about my time here right now is that I have a lot of it - time that is - and though my Kindergarten teachers never believed I could do it, will use my time wisely. Yesterday was officially Day 1 and I lapped up and savored every minute.

I set out early yesterday morning, flip flops on (it was 80 degrees out), back pack full with my Time Out New York, my book (Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed), 2 pens (so as not to repeat the pen disaster of 2008) and 2 camera's. I started at Columbus Circle where I met up with a friend early in the morning partly because she's an early riser and partly because I love the off-leash hours at the park when the dogs are frolicking in the sunshine. And they were, we were politely visited by a skittish wiener dog, two older golden labs and sniffy white poodle.

After the Park I was determined to head to my next favorite place in New York, Madison Square Park. I've had some of my very favorite moments in this park where I was often visited by my friends Loneliness or Self Pity who were often run off by Inspiration and Wonder. This day I knew there was some funky art installations around the park but wasn't sure what exactly I was looking for. So, I hopped on the first train to downtown thinking I could get off at either 14th or 23rd, close enough to walk over to the park. Well, silly me, my inner New York compass is all jumbled up right now and I ended up on West 4th & 6th Ave (a pretty long walk to 23rd and 5th).

Knowing I had plenty of time I decided to skip, I mean walk, up town. So I did, I walked up 6th Ave which I had done many times in my life living in New York but today was different. I was looking at the city with such love in my heart and so much more appreciation. I felt almost like I did when I arrived and began my love affair with her. The Empire State Building, which for a while became just a landmark that was always there, looked more majestic than ever and I regretted not appreciating it more when I saw it over 300 times on my walk to work every day.

As I continued to walk up 6th Ave. I loved knowing where I was and what was coming next. I purposely stopped at the stationary store to buy a journal, the Starbucks to use the potty and of course a little deli for a snack. Finally I got to my destination, The Flat Iron Building which shadows Madison Square Park and looked up to see this:

My heart skipped a beat, a jumper? Nope, more great art in New York. I knew there was something like this going on in the city but wasn't aware of the magnitude. Antony Gormely has placed over 25 sculptures cast from his own body throughout buildings in and around Madison Square Park. As I looked around from the corner of 23rd and 5th and throughout the park I began to spot them and take pictures:

I love these installations so much, first because there is something incredible about looking up to see them hidden around the city, but also because of Gormley's intention: He's illustrating the relationship between the individual and the urban landscape - and what a better place to do that than in New York? He talks about the contradictions created by life in the city; which according to Howard Halle of Time out New York are alienation, ambition, anonymity, fame. To me it's that thing about always having to be aware of my surroundings and my place in the world, however humbling, while either living or visiting Manhattan. Anyway I'm babbling now, but I was totally inspired and taken by these works, and just felt so lucky to have lived in a city that supports this type of art.

After my moments of joy I continued walking north, feet pretty much worse for wear:

This is getting long, so I'll just tell you, my day ended with more fun New York nuggets including an overpriced glass of wine outside at the Shake Shack, attempting to get my old camera repaired near the Empire State Building only to be denied because they just didn't feel like it and and playing bumper carts while fighting my way through the Fairway Market on the Upper West Side.

But possibly my favorite moment of the whole day was when I watched an elderly Asian man fold a page of a magazine into an airplane on the subway. I smiled as he finished and he handed it to me "for you, this is for you, give it to a child" he said. I left the train delighted and decided I was a very deserving child.


pamela said...

Ah, New York, that tantalizing temptress. You're seeing her with fresh eyes and an open heart & mind. It's wonderful that you get this opportunity and I hope you're still enjoying every minute!

laura said...

Wow. I just got home and turned on the computer. Great writing.