We recently spent a few days in the Big Apple, and the fact that the only souvenir we brought back was a bag of Nicola potatoes probably tells you all you need to know about us and our priorities.
Basically, I find New York completely overwhelming. We stayed mostly in midtown and downtown Manhattan, and my reaction upon venturing forth onto the chaotic streets and teeming sidewalks was always the same: Great googly moogly! Get a load of all them tall buildings, Maw!
You have to understand that I don’t know the city at all. The last time I spent any time there was during college, when we used to make occasional forays down from rural western Massachusetts in search of live jazz, cocktails, and the illusion of sophistication. Back then—I’m talking thirty years ago or more—New York seemed a really menacing place, which of course was part of the attraction; taking the subway in the middle of the night made us feel, well, dangerous. Even though we were actually just, you know, stupid.
On this trip, though, I discovered another Manhattan, one that exists behind or along with the gray concrete canyons and jostling hordes and schools of predatory taxis. The principal element of this greener, gentler Manhattan is, of course, Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park, the true heart (or perhaps I should say lungs) of the city.