Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Enjoying NYC Again

I am no native to New York but am decended from it.  My family hails from Long Island circa 1977.  But they, despite being in close proximity, visited the city very sparingly.  I could safely say that I have spent more time in Manhattan than that of my father and his siblings.  It is understandable as to why though.  Imagine the logistics of taking six kids into the city for the day.  My grand parents had enough work to do already.

I, on the other hand, grew up on the Hawaii of the east coast and spent most of my days playing in fields, woods, and on beaches.  I lived fifteen minutes out into the country from my small town, which was forty minutes south of the closest urban centre on the eastern shore of Maryland.  So a big city seemed like some far off dream world.  A place like NYC was a setting for television and movies and a place were famous people lived, but it was hard to grasp what I was in the first time I really walked Manhattan.

I went to NYC a few times while as a kid, at least twice. Then one day I went off to university.  In the fall of my freshman year, the student activities office had a sign up for a free time trip to New York.  I jumped at the opportunity to go and ended up strolling about the most touristy of touristy areas, i.e. Times Square, Broadway, Rockefeller Centre, etc.  I even planned out a few off-the-beaten-path destinations and hit those.  This idea would influence my later trips to the city a great deal and thankfully so.  The iconic things are fun and all that but gets the busiest and are expensive(in the bad way).

My next trip to the city was two years later.  At this point I made a close friend, Josh, who lived lived nearby the city, he was quite familiar with it.  My university had another free time trip sign up and we jumped again.  Being that I had seen the best spots already but two years earlier, he and I decided to give the grand tour to a new friend/love interest of mine.  We basically saw all the same things but was at a completely different level of fun because the trip was also a quasi date for me and the new friend.  One thing I'd never seen before was Central park, and it was closing in on dusk, so we all (her friends were along too) went to see it.  Excellent! Central Park at dusk, time to make my move!  Josh broke off of the group with her friends(as planned) leaving me and her walking alone.  Thats when I used the most cheesy line ever(involving a hershey's kiss, I snagged it (got it for free) at the hershey's store) to ask her out...and Huzzah, it worked! Josh and I dubbed this the Magic of the City.  And so my second college city trip left me with memories of the start of a really great relationship.

From here Josh became my official NYC tour guide and companion.  We have gone to the city many times after this, having crazy adventures, including running at midnight in the pouring rain to catch a train and singing We The Kings.  Each of these trips became less and less focused on anything to do with the main things you think of when you think NYC.  The hidden treasures had become what visiting NYC was about.  Do or see something new every time you go.  The epitome of this became seeing the apartment from the cut scenes in Friends, in the Village.  Greenwich Village is well known and well represented in media, but, the tourists don't seem to really go there much.  And so it has become one of my favorite places to go.  It has many great cafes and restaurants, it's a great place for a writer like me.  It's relatively quiet for Manhattan.  And the people walking around there are real people that live, eat, shop, and sleep in the city.  You can find your chains but there are also grocery stores and clothing shops.  It's great if you like antiques and specialty stores.

When you walk down the side streets in Greenwich Village, you no longer feel like you're in New York.  It feels cozier and homier.  It's a pleasant and comfortable place to promenade.  The crazy thing is, I always wanted to escape nowheresville and go off to where people live and where things happen but when I finally did I found myself drawn to the places that didn't feel like where I was.  Essentially, I want to be in a place that is close to where I come from in the middle of somewhere completely foreign to my home.  And I don't mind.  It also has to do with growing up, I think.

Many people go off into the world and find a place they can call theirs, yet they still want it to feel like home, to a degree.  We are all biologically programmed to pursue procreation.  It drives the desire for starting a family and conversely it drives hedonist desires too.  Our genes want to be passed on, despite our own selfish wants.  But despite those things, when we decide to have children or when they wind up on the way, it's natural to want to raise them in an environment similar to our own childhoods.  Of course this depends on quality of one's childhood, but this theory isn't about the exception.  But yeah, in regards to the Village, it's pretty nifty and swingin'.

So going forwards in my visits to NYC, I've gotten to the point where enjoying the city is now about visiting the places I enjoy.  Finding a nice place to get lunch, sit and relax with good company.  Have a drink, make good conversation.  Also, the thing to do is to find a new place or thing to do that you can't do anywhere else.  Something very specialized that caters to a specific interest of yours, especially if you can't really do it anywhere else.

Recently I read an interview on GQ.  Director Wes Anderson (one of my favorites) interviewed the founder of a new movie theatre/cafe/restaurant called The Metrograph.  They specialize in indie and classic films.  The founder was saying that he'd like it to be a place were writers can hangout and work on their screenplays. Being that I am working on a screenplay and have cinematic desires, this is one of my newest destinations.  Another is The Iguana.  Monday and Tuesday nights a live swing band plays, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks.  They played at my university and I quite enjoyed the show.  I have a love for Swing music and the Jazz era.  This destination sounds like a hopping swing club and the dance floor calls my name!

To conclude, for new visitors of NYC I'd recommend, yes, go see all the tourist things.  Then do it again, and again if necessary.  You need to get tired of them so you can effectively search out new things.  Then do that, find the new things.  As you do this, you'll begin to figure out what parts of the city are your favorites.  Then eventually, visiting the city will no longer be stressful and tiring, but relaxing and more enjoyable than times square ever will be!  But still expensive (but in the good way). "It's up to you New York, New York."

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