(All of our experiences in life are processed through our five senses. So how is New York experienced by an Angeleno? As seen on the Thought Catalog.)
I grew up in Los Angeles and love it so.
I feel so passionately about my town that I feel I must draw a clear line in the sand when it comes to our coastal rivalry with New York. The east coast, with New York in particular, represents such a stark contrast to our sunshine and sandals ways in California. Prior to this trip most of my experiences with New York were brief 4-12 hour trips taking the train in from Connecticut or driving through to get my favorite foods. But this trip in particular there’s something different. They say much of love is timing, so am I ready to accept a new love?
New York through the five senses:
New York has a smell. It first hit me when taking the subway in from JFK. That old familiar scent that’s a mix of a shirt from a vintage clothing store and sulfur. What is that? Since New York has been here elevendy years that smell in the subway is probably a combination of a lot of things. Maybe drunken urine, maybe wafts from the food stalls, or maybe it’s whatever is steaming up from those random pipes in the middle of the street. The say smell can be the most powerful trigger for memory, and the endearing scent of this town reminds many of their fondness for New York.
Walking out of the serenity of my friend’s apartment on the Upper West Side you’re hit with a wall of sound on Amsterdam Ave. The siren. The garbage truck. The taxi accelerating. The kid laughing. The click of heels. The language of French, and the language of “French”. The sound of a businessman yelling in to his iPhone. The Puerto Rican couple arguing about Facebook. Now take all that and multiply it by ten, pretend it’s a fish, then slap yourself in the face with it. Sound is energy and that’s part of the vibe of this city.
You are sticky. You are grimy. You are lovely. You’re constantly aware of the space (or lack of space) around you because you’re constantly in contact with other people may it be passing on the street or jammed into a line outside of a bar. You are touching the turnstile to get in to the subway. Your legs are touching the seat of a taxi. The feel of the NY Post, err I mean NY times, in your hand. Your shoes on the cobblestoned streets in Greenwich. The warmth of slice of pizza in your hand. All of these things add up to that special touch of New York.
There are people that eat to live, and those that live to eat. I am the guy that drove four hours to Philadelphia from New Haven just to try the two warring cheesesteak places, Pat and Geno’s because I saw them featured on the Travel Channel (then of course stopped at Serendipity in New York on the way back). A big part of New York to me is the food, and that’s a draw for any trip I take. I know I’m not alone in this because this is where a large portion of Michelin star restaurants reside, and this is where chefs come to be chefs. May it be from that special blend of gourmet burger at Minetta Tavern, a deceitful crunchy on the outside soft on the inside cookie from Levain Bakery, the ethnic genius of the Halal carts, or the jarring simple decadence of a slice of Artichoke Pizza. I can’t properly articulate in words all of the flavors of this town but food is love.
New York is visually stunning because the people and the buildings. The people are energy, feeling, and movement that creates emotion. The buildings provide a stark static contrast and permanence to a town that is constantly evolving. The lone flower growing out of a crack in the sidewalk is beautiful. The giant trees in Washington Square Park are beautiful. The rowboats and the ice skating in Central Park are beautiful. The view from the top of Rockefeller center is beautiful (and better than the Empire State building). The street carts are beautiful. Times Square at night is beautiful. The women are beautiful. The sleeping homeless man is beautiful. The doormen are beautiful. The train conductors are beautiful. The NYPD is beautiful. The people here, are beautiful. Everything here is beautiful if you’re heart is open to it.
If you asked me two years ago about this town I would have said “I like New York but I’m not in love with New York”. So if much of love is timing, then what does that mean for me now?
New York, I love you.
[Photo: The Brooklyn Bridge in New York, NY]