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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Thoughts on New York

     I went to the SCBWI-NY portfolio show which I will write about above, but I want to talk about New York first, an amazing and unique place.

     When we moved to our log cabin in the mountains five years ago, we thought we were granola-crunchy, off-the-grid types. I honestly was at one time in my life. But I always wondered how I could be a country girl, and yet love Paris like I do - after all, it's a big sprawling urban CITY. When we left our country life and moved to Atlanta I discovered, at this stage of my life (and maybe running through me all along), I am a city girl. I love the vibrancy, the food (the smells), the walking, the amazing resources all Right There. I loved New York.
     We walked, oh how we walked! This is Karen and Beth with Mickey peeking above. Our hotel (the Hilton) was perfectly located. Starting out, we learned the hard way that eating gyros from the sidewalk kiosks is a bad, bad idea. Luckily Karen had medicine with her.
     We were within walking distance to the park, Rockefeller Center, MOMA, Times Square. You name it, we walked there. I quickly learned to look for the red hand vs. the little walking guy saying to stop or go. I learned to look for Taxis that won't stop, trucks that will mow you down, and to "go with the flow."
     We were surrounded by languages - heaven! Russian, French, and so many others I didn't recognize. My ears perked up at every one. It created a kind of music with horns and engines keeping rhythm.

     New Yorkers are skinny people, it's no wonder with all that walking. I know the stereo-type of the "rude New Yorker" but they struck me as focused. Every face had a business-like appearance, with whatever they had to do next fresh on their mind. Any time I spoke to somebody, they were warm and helpful. I discovered they really do wear black and running shoes, and they all look "hip" in a way I never could.
     Garbage was everywhere, bagged and waiting to be picked up (I now understand the impact of a "Sanitation Workers Strike") - but so were tulips in vast arrays of color. I was reminded the blooming schedule is about two or three weeks behind Atlanta.

     Walking to the park, I expecting something similar to Piedmont Park, a large grassy area and sporadic trees. What I found was magic. No matter how many movies I've seen with Central Park, I never expected such amazing rock formations, or the trees that twisted wildly above me before they ever started to leaf out their canopies. Near the zoo, the architecture was old and romantic. I felt I had walked into a secret garden, truly.

     I was surprised by the beauty of the buildings. I expected a plethora of tall grey structures. They were anything but. Radically modern buildings with chrome and shine sat next to century-old buildings of stone. Side streets revealed light striking surfaces in soft hues that took my breath away.

     Stone arches we passed under felt so old, there was no way to avoid connecting with the millions of people who had passed that way for over 100 years. I could almost hear their shoes tapping on the pavement beside my sneakers.
     Time Square reminded me of the setting for "Blade Runner," a multi-tiered, advertising intensive place, but this time abudant with color and life. Everything towered above me with blinking lights and animations. I was cowered, humbled and awed completely.
     What struck me as most different from my usual experience was the sound. I live in a horizontal world here in the south, although I didn't realize it. Things here are mostly level and sound travels sideways. Not in New York - sound travels vertically there. On the 24th floor of our hotel, the noises of the street below drifted up to us. Laying in bed, listening to the sounds above, sideways, and below, I imagined it must be a similar feeling to live in an ant hill with busyness all around. It was enchanting to feel space in such a new way.
     Peeking through the thin curtains, the street far below resembled a river running through a canyon of steep, windowed cliffs.
     New York did remind me of Paris, although it is most definitely its own magic creation. I loved it and can't wait to return.

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