At around 2:20pm we could see Manhattan. I got really excited. I hope to live here someday.
- my hitch-hiking journal from 1995
So what did you think about New York?
I want to live here.
- conversation between Stella and I as we left the city.
It only happens once in your life. That moment you see the city from the distant freeway, those skyscrapers, all of those giant buildings, scrunched together in lower Manhattan and then towering up again in upper Manhattan. And then you arrive INTO the grand metropolis and it's nothing like you could even dream of from a distance. Suddenly you're inundated with pedestrians, couriers hustling on bikes, smells wafting from every nook and corner, lights upon lights and the beautiful cacophony of noises from horns and sirens and coats swishing and music blasting. It's simultaneously marvelous and overwhelming and there isn't anywhere in the world quite like New York City.
I remember my first time. Thing is, I remember almost all of the trips I've taken into the city. I remember the time my friend and I, fresh out of tenth grade, got lost in Brooklyn. I remember hitchhiking into the city on the back of a big pick-up truck, right over the George Washington Bridge. I remember asking Kari to marry me, in the basement of a jazz club near 41st and 7th Avenue. I remember strolls through Central Park and Yankee games in the Bronx and standing on top of the World Trade Center with my Father. This is what New York does to you, no matter how old you are or how many times you've been there. You don't forget.
In the months leading up to Stella's first time in the city, we spent many days talking and looking at pictures and dreaming of subway rides and baseball and street vendor hot dogs and elevators that stretched into the sky.
By the time we arrived into Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel, she was chanting NEW YORK CITY and I HAVE TO PEE at record level volumes. Our first stop was in an illegal parking zone in SoHo, where she happily relieved herself, right next to a sidewalk full of new yorkers who looked at me slightly horrified. From there we saw a Baseball game, climbed to the top of the Empire State Building and spent the evening strolling Battery Park with our dear friend Mel (who, thankfully, snapped some photos for us!).