New York has a trip-hammer vitality which drives you insane with restlessness if you have no inner stabilizer. – Henry Miller
Husband and I spent an extended weekend in NYC, compliments of our friends Dan and Shaleen at Magellan Vacations. They flew us down and put us up in a gorgeous corner suite at the Gansevoort Park Avenue, with chauffeured Porsche to toot around town. Rubes we’re not, but it took about an hour to realize that the initials stitched into the pillow cases were not those of the linen manufacturer but AC and AV to personally honour our stay. Nice touch. Until somebody comes up with Central Park Yurts, luxury hotel stays will have to do (incidentally, feel free to steal the yurt idea).
This was my fifth trip to NYC and it was my goal to only visit places I’d not seen before, to walk ‘til I’d dropped, and to photograph as much as humanly possible. There is such a depth and breadth of potential activities and places – lectures, architectural walking tours, galleries, lessons and studies of all kinds, people to meet, social models to explore, spontaneous performance art to behold – beyond the usual tourist mill. It is nothing short of a treasure trove and I wonder if, in a strange way, I would have been better off not loading up on research before we left and just rolled with what randomly appeared before me. That way I couldn’t be disappointed with what I didn’t see/do/experience. Regardless of the length of stay, without actually living in Manhattan for some period of time, I think I will always have the impression that I am missing out on something great. The city doesn’t make me want to discern as much as wholly absorb everything directly through my skin, which has limited achievability. I felt that omnipresent vitality of which Miller speaks with no desire for an inner stabilizer. This begs the question: am I more my ‘true’ self amongst the crazy metropolitan madness or back home close to the natural fecundity of the land? The attributes I like best about the city reflect those (seemingly) oppositional forces.
While it’s a challenge to choose comfortable shoes that are stylish enough to be photographed in, walking New York is one of my great pleasures. I love discovering the city from the intimate viewpoint of a pedestrian. I like the possibilities for positive human contact, the multilingual cacophony of conversations, and the vibrancy of the everyday. Coming from the country, it’s a luxury to transport oneself by foot to anywhere besides farmers fields and public walking trails.
Access to public transit
Some people say the subway’s stinky, I say it’s absolutely fabulous. Effective public transit is worth its weight in gold. Joni Mitchell said, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till its gone” and it can be hard to appreciate something you’ve always had. In Rural Land, public transit means driving our family van with a neighbourhood kid along for the ride.
The “so muchness” of everything
Yes, there’s a ton of retail but there’s sooooo much more. Non-stop great food. Neighbourhoods filled with galleries. Amazing buildings that populate the skyline. Public squares and pocket gardens. Sixty museums. The arts in every form imaginable. Great ideas lurking everywhere, mostly free for the taking. Plenty of human spirit in every form. I had the absolute pleasure of shooting some of that “muchness”, due in no small part to Husband’s amenable patience. The best of these photos are below. It was a delightful diversion from shooting trees, cows and rustic barns.
It would be a huge trade-off from our easy-going rural lifestyle, but I could get used to having this kind of embarrassment of riches right outside my front door. At least for awhile.