What better time to live in a place like New York than during your twenties?
Such a formative, developmental life period to immerse yourself in a dynamic and fast atmosphere, and emerge a more experienced, cultured and worldly person.
A recent trip to New York left me thinking that I would probably flourish in any big city, with a diverse set of people and a wide range of different things to see, do and eat, but especially New York.
I’ve grown up knowing only what it’s like to live in suburbs. Sure, I’ve visited cities, but I’ve never really lived in them. Still, spending just a few days in New York got me thinking seriously about plunging into a city that has so much going on. The last time I was here, I came with one main objective and didn’t care to explore. This time, however, I definitely made use of the free time I had while I was in the city.
New York is an iconic city filled with familiar, recognizable landmarks. I remember the X-Men battling in and on the Statue of Liberty, but there’s still so much more out there to see.
A full-blown park in the middle of an urban jungle like Manhattan? Central Park brought some much needed green back into my life, and the park fit a lot – large bodies of water, the rocks and all of the people – into that 1.3 square mile plot. I recognized the bridge where the bird lady scene from Home Alone 2 was filmed and a bunch of other locations that I remembered from Enchanted.
David is one of my first friends from New York, and I had the chance to visit his friend’s apartment on the Upper West Side. I talked with the doorman of the building that evening. He had a strong accent, talked a lot about his work community and told me about when he was just a few blocks away from the World Trade Center towers when 9/11 happened. When he recommended places for me to visit, he spoke in New York street lingo, telling me about somewhere on ‘the forties,’ meaning 40th Street and beyond.
They call New York the city that never sleeps, but that doesn’t mean the streets can’t be tranquil in the later hours. On a cab ride home one Monday night, the streets were quiet, and when we pulled up next to another cab at a stop light, I heard the soft sounds of radio blending in seamlessly with the radio station my cab driver had tuned into. Still, driving back, there were so many bright lights coming from signs and storefronts. I was upset with myself for looking down at my phone for most of the ride home.
Even with limited free time in New York, I saw infinite opportunities to explore the streets. There’s so much more there beyond the attractions that everyone knows about, and accompanying locals – who know the area far better than you ever will – is one of the best places to really get to know a city. They know how to get around, and they can read unfamiliar streets, but they also navigate their own territories with ease.
There’s interesting architecture on every street. Knowing nothing about architecture, I could only stare and try to mentally capture every interesting building and detailed storefront I passed.
And I think, that’s what makes a city – hole in the walls. There are so many cool things to uncover, and the more you wander, the more of them you run into.
Some cool places I passed through
The High Line
I walked around the High Line for an hour or so with Olivia, my friend from high school. Like Atlanta has the Beltline and Chicago has the 606, New York has the High Line, except with better views.
It runs through a bunch of high buildings in downtown so you get to walk past them and see the building structure and layout in extreme detail. There’s not really room to run or anything, as there were a lot of people walking up and down the path on a Tuesday afternoon. We walked to an area that overlooked the Hudson River, and the sights were spectacular. All around us were tall buildings, you could look down and see people walking all over the streets, helicopters were flying over the city in the distance, and you could see New Jersey across the Hudson River.
Navin and I wandered around the area for an hour or so. Aside from the spectacular new World Trade Center building, there were also two monuments commemorating the Twin Towers, which were destroyed during 9/11. In their places are two giant deep square pools.