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Archive for August 6th, 2009

New York: Walking, Melancholy and Magic

August 06th, 2009 | Category: Life

So, for day two in New York, we walk three miles from our hotel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s a long walk, but it’s spectacular. In a cab, you don’t really get to feel the city. New York city sidewalks are so alive with people. People walk by reading books, listening to iPods. There are guys selling silk pashminas for five bucks on practically every street corner. The buildings are so tall, and often very ornate. New York makes me feel small, but never lonely. We pass by Bryant Park, people are sitting outside at a quaint little cafe. Kim adds some Bryant Park gravel to my dirt collection, for some texture. We pass by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, it’s the epitome of holy-looking. We walk, and walk, and walk some more.

The Met is a gorgeous museum, home to thousands of years of art. I’d been before, but it’s nice to see again. If you’re in New York, you pretty much have to visit the Met. It’s scripture. I stroll through the Arms and Armor collection, all the swords, axes, heavy suits of plate-mail. I see suits of armor for horses, which strikes me as kind of sad. People have spent so much time and effort developing effective ways of killing each other. People fought and died under all that steel, today people kill each other with the push of a button. It all seems stupid. I also laugh at myself, at my proclivity toward turning absolutely melancholy on a dime. I mean, I’m surrounded by beautiful art, and my first thought is, “everyone who created this beauty is dead.” I do that a lot, I always feel the weight of passing time, of how everything ends.

After the Met, we walk to Central Park. I once rode through the park in a horse-drawn carriage with the legendary actor, Van Johnson, which is a long and odd story that I’ll leave a mystery, but I’d never been through the park on foot. Central Park is a little surreal, it’s magic. Manhattan is so chaotic, it’s steel, and concrete, and noise. Central Park makes all of that chaos vanish, the contrast is astonishing. Massive skyscrapers and frenetic energy, then green trees and peace. It reminds me of someone back home, how I feel around her. Walking through Central Park, the sky shifting from blue, to orange, to starry black, it hits me how much I love her, how much I miss her. I want her there with me, walking through the cool night air. I ask Kim to add more dirt to my tiny liquor bottle.

As it gets dark, we start seeing dozens of little green flashes in the bushes, lightning bugs. So much of why I like my friend, Kim, is that we both get a kick out of the silliest little things. Kim sees the lightning bugs and she’s nine years old again, she’s catching lightning bugs, giggling as they glow in her hands. Watching her, I kind of miss talking. I want to say how glad I am to have met her, how happy I am that she’s my friend and that we’re in this crazy city, on this crazy trip just like we talked about in that dive bar. I could alphabet it, but that’s not the same. So, I think it to myself and know I’ll write it later.

Being that we’re in Central Park and it’s dinner time, I decide that we have to dine at Tavern on the Green. I’ve seen it in so many movies, I want to experience it first hand. It’s as posh and decadent as I imagined it. it’s perfect. We sit out outside, the trees are covered in twinkly white lights, waiters bustle about serving food. It’s nice to sit and relax awhile, we’ve walked so many miles. As we’re leaving, Kim is good enough to top off my dirt collection, I wonder if anyone else has ever spirited dirt away from Tavern on the Green in a miniature vodka bottle. I doubt it.