Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

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Observations from NYC

Every time I visit New York City I tell myself I will move here one day, the sooner the better. People often assume I’m from here (apparently, I give off a “NY vibe”), but I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. Still, I feel connected to the city. I’ve been coming here on a regular basis since I was a child, first with my mother, who used to bring me to visit friends and family, and  always managed to squeeze in a visit to the Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney or one of the other major art museums.

When I was around 12 years old, my older sister moved here for graduate school and we would come to visit her. By the time I moved to LA to attend graduate school, my mother had passed away and my older brother and most of my childhood friends had moved away from Philly, so there was less reason to go back. It also held tons of memories that I found too painful to relive on every corner of every street. I sort of left and never looked back, opting to visit NY on school breaks. I thought I would move here after graduate school, but LA has a way of seducing you and keeping you comfortably nestled in her bosom, especially if you’re in the movie industry.

This is not to say that I don’t love LA. I do, more than I used to. It’s a beautiful city, and California is a stunning state. Maybe it’s a West Coast thing, but it still feels like a land of opportunity, like anything is possible. It feels newer, brighter and fresher than the East Coast. And of course there is the weather, which is a cliche but nevertheless, a factor in adding to the “brightness” and overall easier lifestyle.

One of my regrets is that my late husband and I never came to NY together. He was from Washington D.C. and that’s where he went every Christmas. I tried to get him to come to NY for a few days so I could show him the city but it just never happened. So, I would come without him. One time, I called him from a taxi speeding down the BQE at sunset (from which one can see the entire Manhattan skyline). “I wish you could see this,” I told him. “The city is gleaming!” He never let me forget that word, gleaming.

I’ve noticed more things about NYC on this visit, like the dog parks don’t have small and big dog sections, but offer just one large space for dogs of every size. Someone told me there’s a sectioned dog park near Prospect Park, “but no one uses the small dog side.”

More people talk about Hurricane Sandy here (for obvious reasons), especially in my sister’s neighborhood, where friends lost houses, cars, businesses and lives. Everyone seems to have either been affected or know someone who was. My nephew lost a classmate to the storm, and one of the oldest bars in Brooklyn, a cultural and historical landmark, is still struggling to re-open.

People walk on the sidewalks more than in LA (not a pedestrian city). Museums, cafes and bars are packed. There seems to be a diner or coffee shop on every street, and it feels more diverse, though this might be because everyone’s closer to each other. There is definitely an energy to this city. Then again, there is an energy to LA too. It’s just different. Like different pulses.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Vermont is like, to not being in a big city. I imagine it being much quieter, perhaps with clearer, more starry, skies.

Speaking of skies, yesterday I went to the Ann Hamilton show at the Park Avenue Armory, an amazing building which I had never been to before. The material in the middle of the space seemed to be parachute lining – or perhaps silk. People swung on swings which were attached to pulleys that lifted the curtain up and down in a constant, gentle movement, like waves. It was magical.

Anne Hamilton show
Ann Hamilton show2