Loving NYC

I have the best job in the world. I get to see nature as it twists itself into infinite manifestations adaptive to the climates that envelope our planet. I travel across continents and immerse myself in cultures, meeting people in conversations that dig into their psyches and their worlds. I visit a kaleidoscope of international businesses that reflect human creativity, invention and need. In other words, I live anthropology, all because of the value of the stories our company’s video cameras can capture and tell (with a little aid from us humans).

And yet, with the countless places I’ve visited on earth — the breathtaking land and seascapes, the fascinating range of activities that dot different urban streets – the one I can’t help but love the most is the city that has been my home (in a suburban sort of way) almost my entire life: New York, NY. Here’s why:

It is a warm summer night this evening, and I am walking 22 blocks from Penn Station to the East Village to meet my daughter for dinner at Souen, a macrobiotic restaurant that has been around since before I became a vegetarian in 1974. The streets are so crowded that I am momentarily annoyed at being jolted out of my peaceful day. Within a few blocks the throngs thin out into gentler waves of characters that my brain can process. That is when I fall in love with the city again, each time anew.

I see the soft blur effect between the people ending their business days, heads appearing stuck in issues that refuse to stay behind in their offices, and the people on their way to a fun evening – a date, a birthday dinner, a social gathering.  I chuckle at a group of tourists, all standing at a corner and taking the same photo of the Empire State Building. I strain my ears to hear two young men speaking so loudly in Polish that I can make out some words from across the busy street. I shop in a cute little kitchen store with all kinds of fun gadgets and buy a new coffee grinder at the same price as the department stores advertise. I pass a street where my daughter once bought an armoire that refused to slide into the back of my CRV, but no problem – this is New York! Within minutes we found a man with a van who whisked the armoire to her apartment.

Life here is animated, electric, like thousands of separate cartoon strips all interwoven into a fabric of people accustomed to and comfortable with the differences that surround them – cultural, linguistic, racial, religious, sexual, and sometimes just in terms of personality. “It’s all good,” as they say – as they all seem to say — here in New York.

I arrive at Souen before my daughter, and I wait at the counter that overlooks the street. Next to me is a woman eating her dinner with a literary companion in the form of an E-Reader. The letters are larger than 12-point font, and she turns the page with a swipe of her finger, as engrossed in the novel as she is in her dinner. Feet away, on the other side of the window, real live stories walk by. They don’t distract her, though the older gentleman with unsteady legs trying to sit in the open chair between her and me causes her head to turn with a concerned expression for a few seconds. She seemed poised to help if necessary, despite the draw of the characters on her electronic screen.

My daughter and I share a delicious macrobiotic, organic food dinner and interesting conversation. We say good bye as she goes to the #4 or 5 train and I begin my return 1.25 mile trek on foot to Penn Station. I could take the subway too, but that would require trading in my imaginary ticket to the greatest show on earth — the streets of New York — replete with countless moving parts that provide a never-ending source of inspiration.

That’s my New York: dinners with my kids and interesting friends, tasty veggie food at affordable prices, hearing every language on the planet spoken within a city block or two, observing non-judgmental people passing non-self-conscious people who are busy doing their “thing,” and reveling in the intelligence, creativity and happiness that seems to waft out of apartment windows opened wide on beautiful summer days.

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