I left for a trip to New York about two weeks ago, first to visit a friend on Long Island, and then to Manhattan for a continuing education course. Whenever I wasn’t in class, I was eating out with friends — or so it seemed.
I had grand plans to go to the MoMA or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to see if I could get cheap rush tickets to a show (any show!), to catch some music or see some dance… but no. Instead, I followed my stomach.
I followed it to Murray Hill for delicious Indian food (Pongal restaurant is one of a few kosher vegetarian joints on Lexington Ave. in the 20s). I took my tummy to Korean BBQ with diverse friends who had never met each other. I partook of libation on the roof at Bookmarks in the Library Hotel with my friend Liz (my word, a real martini!! So hard to find anywhere in Europe!!!!). And then we went for sushi, where I ate four Wasabi Bombs (I did not cry).
I had noodles at Ollie’s for lunch, coffee at Joe’s as often as possible, and bagels from Absolute Bagels.
I did some other stuff. I walked the High Line. I visited friends and their babies. I managed to enjoy the course I took a lot. I even got sunburned in the early spring weather. It was a great trip, and I miss living in New York City as much as I don’t miss it, which is to say, a lot.
I’ve been weighing the city living here in Stockholm against New York’s mishegas. I do not miss the smells, nor the overwhelming human masses. I do not miss the beggars. I do not miss the pressure to be fashionable. And I do not miss the pressure to “make it,” to succeed and earn tons of money and build one’s reputation at the cost of quality of life.
But I miss walking down the street and seeing all kinds of people, from all social strata, races, backgrounds, life paths, dreams, craziness levels, and the food and miscellany that go with that diversity smooshed onto one small island. I miss the cultural firehose, the storm of events that washes down on the city all the time, and the knowledge that it is there even if you are missing it all because it is too expensive or happening all at once. Think about it: A small European country (more than 8 million people), packed onto an island and its surrounding boroughs (just over 300 square miles). No wonder New York is exciting.
Swedes love the city. They, too, love the food you can’t get here in Sweden, the arts and culture, the cheap clothing… New York is never really quiet, even when you are on the street alone. The streets here in Stockholm fairly echo in the neighborhood around our apartment. But that can be a good thing: the gift of silence in the midst of a city.