Earlier this week, I made a quick trip to New York City to do a work presentation for a potential client there — my first visit in 11 years. After my professional responsibilities were taken care of, I was able to slip away to roam about for an evening and a morning and reacquaint myself with the city that has insomnia.
Tuesday evening, I dropped by the TKTS booth in Times Square to see what I could get admission to at a reasonable rate. I decided upon the play Jerusalem after speaking with the knowledgable and helpful staff member stationed by the signs, who claimed that it “changed [his] life”. The play was wonderful: terrifically funny through the first two acts, concluding with some great human drama in act 3 — an ideal balance. The show was well worth seeing, though probably not one for the younger set, due to an avalanche of blue language. (Though at least it’s English-style cursing, so it might go over the heads of young Yanks.) As a bonus, on the way back to the apartment where I was staying, I got to watch the police clear Times Square due to a “suspicious package” that had been found there. It turned out to be benign. They let everyone back in 10 minutes after I left, though I was wryly amused to notice that they left the people in the Abercrombie store, which appeared to be within the presumed blast radius, right where they were.
Wednesday, I decided to explore Central Park before I had to leave to catch my flight. This turned out to be an excellent decision. In spite of the fact that I spent my four college years only about 30 miles up the road, I’d never really ventured much into the park, aside from the 1990 Paul Simon concert, for which I camped out the night before — a sleepover that, on this trip, I learned was illegal. Oops.
Starting at the southwest corner of the park, I zigzagged my way to the northeast corner, with many a detour along the way (some intentional, others due to my execrable sense of direction). Central Park is fabulous, and within 20 minutes, I was in love with it. Numerous terrific playgrounds, beautiful lakes, boats and bikes for hire, wonderful rambles through the woods, elm trees (which are fairly unusual after Dutch Elm Disease demolished the American population of these lovely behemoths), museums, pine forests, a carousel, castles, running trails, cafes, and theaters all vied for my attention as I passed, munching on an everything bagel with cream cheese and lox, just to get the full New York experience. It made for a delightful morning, though a bit exhausting, as I was lugging all of my traveling supplies on my back with me. (Fortunately, I travel ruthlessly light.)
It was great to get to spend a bit of time in this marvelous city. Crime rates have dropped precipitously over the past 10 years, and, most surprising of all to me, New Yorkers seem to have actually gotten quite friendly since I last visited. I don’t know if 9/11 had a tenderizing effect on gotham’s soul, or if there has been some other seismic cultural shift, but nearly everyone I spoke with was delightful.
So thanks, New York City, for a great time. Let’s not put off our next rendezvous another 11 years.