Driving back into Manhattan from JFK after a recent trip overseas had me looking anew on the passing landscape. There is so much space. And more trees than I remember. Cute detached triangle-roofed houses. Wildflowers. A random strip of six brick walk-ups along a stretch of empty lots and big box buildings. A crow pecking at some dried grass. Signs. All kinds of signs of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Another airport! More trees!
A traffic jam has us taking an alternate route past a cemetery with undulating hills of stone markers glimpsed in passing through the trees. We pass Flushing Meadows with the Jetsons-looking World Fair towers visible above the tree line. Passing hotels and senior living centers and complexes of indistinguishable big brick box-like towers.
My first glimpse of Manhattan is a tower I rather loathe, but as my first one in over a week it’ll do. Another cemetery to the left, fire truck to the right, the tall towers of Long Island City blocking the view, and straight ahead is the wonderful Empire State Building. Traffic slows and I take in the factories and office buildings bordering the highway, both new and old. A solitary teen bounces a basketball in a fenced-in court. We are through the tollbooth and headed for the tunnel.
Traveling under the East River can be freaky if you think about it too much, with the long slow descent going deeper and deeper and snaking around. And then the tunnel gets brighter and you emerge to see large buildings towering all around. A maze of exit streets (downtown? Uptown? ) and you’re out! Sunlight, birds, red brick buildings and old cement townhouses. Construction, paving trucks, cozy restaurants, and the tunnel vision of heading up any one street.
There is a truism that one shouldn’t look up when walking around NYC. In general I agree. It pegs one as a tourist and easy mark who might walk into people or traffic.
But then there are days like today that reward the curious dreamers who can’t help but take it all in. Days when the azure sky is a broad, expansive backdrop, streaked with wisps of cottony clouds that create decorative shadow patterns below, buildings stand out with knife-edged clarity, and leaves are jostled by the caress of a gentle breeze.
These are moments that make me want to throw my arms wide with love for this bold and beautiful city that I call home.
I love to travel. Since I live in NYC and don’t own a car, most of my nearby travel is by train.
For me, train travel has an air of romance and adventure. Possibilities. Views into other lives.
Windows. I love staring out windows and watching the moving landscape (that’s how it feels). And windows themselves tell a story. Today’s windows were covered in grime, dried rain drops, scratches, and letters etched into the glass. The nearly-noon sun hit the grime at an angle that made it twinkle like thousands of pieces of glitter.
That made me smile.
A blue sky painted with translucent washes of white clouds. The gentle rhythmic gurgle and smack of water slapping against the dock forms a backdrop of sound. The drone of seaplanes, grinding hum of ferries, and high tinny whine of construction machines form additional layers.
I want to lie down, close my eyes, and dream. The voices of strangers nearby gradually fall away and I am alone with the warm sun melting the muscles of my shoulders as if they’ve been frozen. I close my eyes and feel the brightness wash over me. I feel illuminated. Relaxed. Revived.
White spring blossoms against a sky blanketed with white puffy clouds. It reminds me of layers of cotton balls glued to a blue cardboard sky. The sun burns a hole and makes me squint. Branches sway and blossoms dance in the April breeze, pretending that Spring is here. The biting chill that slices through seems to say,
Don’t be too sure.
The Hudson River is grey. The sky above the Hudson River is grey. The striated clouds that hover over the Statue of Liberty are grey. And it is all glorious because the weather is finally warm! It’s that early spring slightly damp warmth, where green shoots peek out of lawns that reek of manure. Sounds are muted. The soft breezes nudge, ruffling scarfs and hair, but don’t slice and sting like they have been. Even the seagulls seem more relaxed. Today is March 28 and it finally feels like winter will soon take it’s leave. Au revoir! Hoşbulduk. Goodbye, farewell, see you next year.
Warm, vibrant, comforting, stimulating, energizing. Reminiscent of crisp autumn days, falling leaves, pumpkins, soup, glowing hearths, ghoulishly grinning Jack o’ lanterns, games, and laughter. This is a color that makes me smile and gives me energy, especially when it arrives in the form of a steaming bowl of pumpkin coconut soup. Yum.