Tony and I are spending the weekend in New York visiting friends and discovering corners and pockets of wonder in this City of Overwhelm that are delighting me constantly. I spent a good deal of time in Midtown when my sister and brother-in-law lived there, but now I'm staying in Washington Heights, a largely Dominican neighborhood where yesterday I ate more sweet plantains than anybody should. Oh, but they were good and cheap.
We walked across the George Washington Bridge, I bought a red jumpsuit to wear at an as-yet-unplanned activity, and we ended up at a birthday party with champagne cocktails and conversations about the purpose of intellectualism in an increasingly unemotional social landscape.
I took many pictures and felt bolstered in my utter enjoyment of this city by the fact that no matter where we turned, something incredible was going on. This may be one of my biggest complaints about Boston: there's not enough weirdness on the street. It turns out I feel much better in places where someone's wearing a ball gown on the train, someone's singing very loudly in French, someone's leaning over to tell me how good the albondegas is, someone's selling a pirate print fedora, someone's arguing about whether Camus or Abe was a "better" existentialist. This morning I'm curled up under a borrowed quilt, on a borrowed computer in Brooklyn, waiting for my odd and lovely friends to wake up for brunch.
Of course every city has it's eccentricity, but what I love about L.A., San Francisco, and New York in particular is how much that eccentricity is implicitly encouraged. This is not to naively suggest that one is always safe in these cities doing ridiculous things...but somehow the moment of contact with strangers in these places doesn't exhaust me as much as it does in Boston, I think because I don't feel like I'm fighting for the right to shake it up.
Yesterday at a restaurant called Mambi just a few blocks from the GW bridge, I ordered a caffe con leche that came on a plate with a tiny spoon. The waitress returned to our table right at the moment that I dipped my other, quite large spoon in the coffee, and she laughed at me, because of how silly it seemed to her that I'd used the wrong spoon, I think. "It's okay honey," she said, and took the tiny spoon away. I'm not sure if she meant "Don't worry, being an idiot is no big deal," or "It doesn't actually matter which spoon you use," but her humor, her heavy pink lipstick, the way she called Tony "Papi" and how delicious my three-dollar Cuban sandwich was all reminded me that I'm one of those writers who needs new things to be happening ALL the time.
This mandates that I create and invite these moments, but it also mandates that I occasionally leave town, or go to a new part of town, and sit still with my journal and camera and watch, and watch, and watch.
We walked up to a park at The Cloisters and marveled at many walls of gorgeous melting ice clinging to the rocks. We stood in the bright orange twilight and stared across the river at miles of winter trees. I'm lucky to be in New York.