Cities have always filled me with energy and curiosity. I grew up in the suburbs west of Portland, OR, and it always felt like a treat when my parents would take me downtown for some reason. In high school, I commuted to the east side of Portland, and sometimes on a Friday afternoon when I was feeling a little bit run down, or alternatively, having a really good day, I would take a detour through downtown on my way home. I would find a cup of coffee (obviously), do some window shopping, and just walk through down the streets soaking up the energy. Take this feeling, this energy, and multiply it by 100, and that’s what it felt like to be in New York.
“New York has romanced me unlike– Blake Lively
Before visiting, I never understood why people love New York so much. I really didn’t. My mental image was nothing more than a massive dirty city with a crime problem where nobody owns a car. While those ideas aren’t totally wrong, there’s also so much more that I had been unaware of before.
There’s art everywhere. There is art in the storefronts, the graffiti, and the old brownstone buildings. Broadway and the lights and chaos of Times Square. The peace and tranquility of Central Park. The lights of the skyline at night. The variety of languages spoken on every street. The crowds walking the High Line and wandering the West Village. The lines and curves of the Brooklyn Bridge spanning the East River. The old wood floors and leather chairs in the historical pub that hosted the Founding Fathers. The museums full of artifacts from ancient civilizations, legendary artists, and heartbreaking rubble of a national tragedy.
Each neighborhood is unique and proud. While you walk through nothing but city for miles and miles, you can feel the change in culture, food, art, smell, language, and attitude. Each neighborhood is diverse and proud of its heritage, learning to live in the bustle of a city that changes and grows constantly.
The reality of life is raw and apparent here as well. Between the charming West Village and the lights of Times Square, the struggle of real life is heavy and grimy. Workers of every industry share the same subway train and walk the same sidewalks, but they sleep in very different places. I felt my privilege deeply.
I shared this trip with Husband and two of our very favorite people. I’m not naive enough to think that this experience would have been the same had it not been with the dearest of friends. The delight of sharing these days made everything better.
We headed to Manhattan and I was unsure of what I would experience. I came home with a full heart. Full with inspiration and appreciation for the ebb and flow of people, the movement of a city. Full with happiness at the friendships I’m deeply blessed with. Full with unbelieving at the fun we had, the food we ate, the art and history we experienced, the multitude of miles we walked.
We arrived back home in Seattle on a beautifully sunny autumn day. The air was clear and crisp and the trees were losing their leaves. We didn’t flow through streams of people or stand on a stifling subway platform to get home. We have space and clean air and beautiful nature, and I know that my heart finds peace in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. And still, a large chunk of my heart was left in the colossal city of dingy air and floods of people and bright night lights. Part of my heart will undoubtedly always feel at home in New York City.