“…I’m in a New York state of mind…”
- Billy Joel
You know, while that song has been overplayed, I’ve truly been in a New York state of mind the past couple of days.
What you guys may not know about me, and if you do – great!, but I absolutely love walking. In part, because I live in a city that doesn’t require having a car to get around, in another because I’m just the sort of a person whose mind does great things when the feet are in motion, but I love, love long walks through the city. Any metropolis, truly, but this one I lived in for the past sixteen years and, truth be told, I am in love with it.
“Have you ever been in love? With a person, that is.”
Yes, I have. It’s not my general policy to comment on my personal life, but the other times I was in love before ended very, very badly. One of the two times that it didn’t end badly was when I first explored NY for what it was…and never quite stopped doing so. My other love affair is with music.
“So why do you say that you love NYC? You refer to it like it’s a person, almost…romantically.”
For a reason, I assure. It breathes in a certain sense, it certainly has its own heartbeat, and it definitely has good days and bad. It’s just on such a larger scale, and it is alive in its own unique way. I say that I am in love with it because its rhythm – insane, frenetic, multicolored, multifaceted – is the same as my own way of thinking: nonstop, random and yet perfectly organized, colorful and imaginative, everyday and madcap at the same time. It’s a city that is its own way of life, and its own brand of uniqueness.
“It’s just so…fast-paced!”
Ever seen how I walk? ;)
But truly, this is a different love. New York is my heart and soul because of its rhythm, and because of the very unique things I may find in it. I would see a teenage girl decked out like Ricky’s makeup shop used her wardrobe for experimentation playing classical violin concertos on a subway platform, and I’d see people miss their train just so they could sit and listen to her. I did that too, because when the hell would you see something like that, if not right then and there? Or what about the ragtag-looking trio of high-schoolers, two tenor saxophones and a drummer, with a sign of “Need Money to Record Album” blasting into it on the L-train platform with a skill that I’d see at a jazz festival of a far grander scale? These things are unique, they come just in the moment that they happen in; there is no way to repeat them. And each of those moments makes me smile, and file them away into the recesses of my memory for the next time I need to give my day a little oomph of alive.
Today was sunny, I was a guest caller on Talking Smooth Jazz with Oli Silk, a most brilliant young pianist with a new CD in stores on August 31st – iTunes, people, iTunes!!! – and thought to myself, screw it. I need to be out there.
And when that mentality hits, I absolutely have to get the hell to wherever I’m going.
So today, I boarded the train and hightailed it to…Brooklyn Heights.
*cue Down to the Bone song of the same name*
…c’mon, you guys knew that was coming. :)
On the real, my connection to Brooklyn Heights – the neighborhood, not the song – comes from when I was working nightshift and finishing my degree. I also wrote my first book during that time – the first draft of it, in all its imperfect glory, was finalized while I was working at night, would come back to my place and couldn’t sleep. So I’d stay on the Promenade to do nothing but watch the sunrise.
I can’t even begin to tell you how utterly beautiful that sight is. I can only hope that one fine sleepless night, I will be able to stay up and capture that. The colors are inimitable, and I don’t think photos or words do it justice.
So, here I went, and the sun was out in full force. So were the tourists, but you can’t win ‘em all.
Without further ado, here are some choice sights.
The skyline of Lower Manhattan, as taken from the Promenade.
Cadman Plaza Park, right at the foot of the Bridge.
Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge – a walk I do not do very often, but ought to.
Brooklyn Bridge – a mile and a quarter of walking delight :)
Right off Wall Street, there’s a little square with a patisserie…and a lighted fountain. I love coming to this fountain; it’s a nice place to settle in and just…relax and think.
I do these photo-walks often. I’m not sure where the hell I get the images to, but these walks, for me at least, are a way to just get back in tune with myself. My ears are full of music, my feet are carrying me to various place, and after a while, I just stop worrying. Work, stress, ambition – all of this melts away when I’m confronted by a street overgrown with trees, or amber lighting in Madison Square Park at night, or the fiery colors of a sunset – or sunrise – on the Promenade. It just all takes a vacation, and for a couple of hours, I’m left to simply be me. Slow down, enjoy the music, and sniff at the wafting cinnamony smell from a nearby bakery. Or something.
I do love New York. And I will be showing you much more of it as I go about things.