I’m not a city person but I had a good time in one once.

I am not good at operating in New York. Or Boston. Or most cities. I act like I am- I am merely very skilled at covering up the fact that I am very, very lost. Mostly because once I reach a place with any significant population (i.e. over 50,000) I seem to be consistently bad at figuring out where the hell I am.

My lovely aunts hosted me in Connecticut over spring break this last year and I was able to head into the city several times. Each time was it’s own unique perilous journey. One morning I met Exa at the train station, and I wanted to cry seeing her! Another time I successfully got into the city but was supposed to meet an old friend from high school at a vegan Japanese restaurant.

I was given an address but since at that point I owned no smart phone I merely had to guess. I was almost late, I was confused, and I had spent 90 minutes circling blocks, trying to gauge where I was. Finally, I hailed a taxi and got in. Giving him the address, I expected to feel relief. Upon repeating it though, he says, “Listen, it’s literally two blocks from here dahlin’. I can take you there but you’re pretty much already there.” I refused to walk any further and rode the taxi two blocks.

Another time I went into the city and rode the subway to the Met. However, I was so relieved to finally be on the right line I fell alseep in my giant black rain slicker and woke up in the Bronx some time later after having passed the Met long long ago. Oops. I simply stayed on the train, and waited until I got back down to the Central Park ish area.

New York was lovely. I ate fantastically well- noodles, mimosas, whoopie pies, Italian food, French breakfasts, sushi, you name it! However, my appetite was fueled by the pure ridiculousness and stress of being in New York. I love cities for a jaunt or for a bit but I think I’ve slowly come to realize that heavily populated areas deprive me of the greenery and forests I take for granted. I feel claustrophobic and yet lonelier than ever. I love being able to go into one for a bit to visit museums and hear the multiple languages and see the culturally different but for me there is nothing like getting up and hearing the trees scrape against my window and be surrounded by mountains, or driving for only an hour before I hit pristine streams and campsites rarely visited. I like it when my traffic jam is caused by deer in the road.

 

TriBeCa

003_22A 005_20A 010_15AI got super lost here by myself. Not that it was unexpected- but it still was frustrating. I was on the hunt for some good thrift shops, and the few that I found were sub-par, but I only made it for about 15/20 blocks. There were lots of bourgeois boutiques with $1,000 dresses- I walked in and immediately walked out.

Something about being around ostentatious wealth like that makes me uncomfortable, for whatever reason. I feel like I’m not good enough, or I immediately think of ALL the things I could do with the money- feed myself and pay rent for months, buy gas for over a year, go on a road trip, save money to pay some debt, etc.

Anyway, TriBeCa was gorgeous. I loved the steps, stores, the tulips on some corners. It was also very quiet and nice- it felt like a neighborhood, whereas the rest of the city as I had experienced it felt like a mass of energy that just trampled me.

 

Things were better when I was lost.

006_19 008_17 009_16 011_14 013_12 015_10 018_7 019_6 022_3I apologize for the backwardness of this post. Perhaps it would be nice one day to wake up and do the partying and the food and then slowly enter your day?

I woke up, got on the train, and promptly got lost. I was not in the least surprised, so it wasn’t scary or confusing- I just asked somebody. It wasn’t hard. My lack of a smartphone somewhat handicapped me in the city, and it would have been nice to have a companion that wielded one, but I managed.

I shopped in a Japanese clothing store, found a vegan restaurant to met an old friend for lunch, and then went past the New York Public Library and Bryant Park to the MoMA. The entire time I was eagerly vibrating with this odd energy- I was going to see The Scream. 

I cried when I saw it. Something about the culmination of human emotion, desire, abandonment, yearning, desperation, and isolation just hit a chord in my heart. The security guard did not know what to do with this weeping girl standing too close, and gently shooed me behind the taped line on the floor as best as he could. I feel like when some people see or hear others cry, they think, “HOW CAN I STOP THIS I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO MY GOODNESS.”

Later I met up with Anya and Maya, two girls from my Swiss school. We’re all lovely devotees of art- Anya was dressed in a chic black coat, Maya in her typical casual slightly masculine wear that just oozes boss. Anya led me to Soho where we dined on pizza and glasses of house wine. Maya and I split a cab uptown, from which I shot some pictures.

I made a late train home and almost fell asleep. A busy, sunny, slightly windy day that ended up being far more social than I planned (in a good way).

New York- Reunion with old friends

I haven’t seen Exa or Kate in two years. I have no idea what we’re going to be doing, or what’s going to happen.

Exa pulls up in the drive way, prompt, armed with three cameras, a coat with humongous pockets, and that signature smile. Her hair is shorter than I remember, and we hug for a long time, two years going through the window- everything seems like it never ended.

Exa and my aunt talk and then we are dropped off at the train station. Buying tickets and waiting, we both discuss the surreal quality of the situation: We are together again. That itself is a jewel of a thing. Boarding the train, we sit and begin talking like nothing has interrupted our effortless friendship. The train zips along and in no time we are in Grand Central. We wait in the middle for Kate- and here she comes, all strawberry blonde hair and wonderful smiles. We hug and again exclaim about the ridiculousness of the situation, in the most marvelous sense.

We get to the Met, check our coats, and begin to wander. Exa is hell bent on seeing Madame X, but we go into the Old Masters wing. Everybody agrees that our future lovers/husbands/what have you must build us wedding chests in the Italian fashion- big, heavy gilded things covered in paint, gorgeously constructed.

Fat Renaissance babies, Baroque frames, and Byzantine Italianate paintings line the walls. We walk past millions of dollars and talk about everything and anything- life has been moving on, and we’ve all changed, but our common international past threads everything. Memories laced with strawberry wine, bad decisions, and the Swiss country we resided in are shared. I think I laughed more than I have in a long time- too long!

Soon, Kate announces she’s hungry. Thank God, I think, because my stomach has been growling like an unsatisfied forest creature for some time. After desperately trying to find my favorite Judith beheading Holofernes portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder (UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN A CLOSED WING) we depart.

We take the subway and enter Union Square. Literally not a single cloud tarnishes the optimistic blue that permeates the skyline. A farmer’s market bustles, and we make our way to Republic. Seated among two other groups of people, we order mimosas and enormous bowls of curried vegetables, wontons, and glass noodles. Kate attempts to teach Exa how to handle chopsticks- the lesson was somewhat successful, though in reality this should just give Exa an excuse to eat much more meals that require them.

We discuss Buddhist monk TA’s, life in college, current life dilemmas, and what our summers hold. Kate is spending the summer in Bucharest, Romania, on a dig- she’s found her passion, and I slightly envy her Eastern European summer. Exa, currently a resident of Boston, bemoans Boston’s horrible public transportation and how her landlord is in the process of “sweating them out”- apparently the heat has been 75+ for days now. We eat until full- so many noodles! – and head out into the Farmer’s Market.

Upon finding out I’ve never had a whoopie pie, Exa and Kate decide I must have one. We buy a plate with 3 of them and sit in a park on the ground, surrounded by good weather and spring-feverish New Yorkers. The whoopie pie was a marvel. Memories of living in horrible dorms, roommates, Chat Roulette and travelling are shared once again.

Kate finds a Victorian bar on her smartphone, and we walk there- but not before running into Journelle, a lingerie boutique that has the best website ever. I enter and buy Wolford stockings, gorgeous but expensive. We look at basques, bustiers, garter belts, and the most beautiful underthings. Mint, red, black, nude- colors galore! We bemoan our lack of funds for these gorgeous things, and enter Lillie’s.

Red velvet booths, a marble bar, and a giant tarnished mirror finished off the Victorian vibe. Exa and Kate both had whiskey drinks, while I stuck with my vodka. We sit for a while, slowly drinking and murmuring more stories. I can’t believe I’m in a huge city with two people I thought I’d never get to see again. We’re seamlessly laughing, the thread of conversation continuous.

Exa leads us to Eataly, the most amazing store in New York. A store, cafe, bar, and restaurant that imports Italian goods galore, a sensor delight in every way! Enormous bricks of Italian cheeses stare at me. My life in Switaly comes back, and I see Genovese pesto, imported pasta, genuine imported proscuitto. The sauces we would by in Migros, in Lugano, line the shelves! I’m back in Switzerland for a moment. Exa puts our name down to go to the 14th floor to the biergarten.

45 minutes later we enter. We each have a pint of something different- Exa’s brew had pomegranate it in, and definitely won. We sipped, people watched, and enjoyed the coming evening. A little buzzed, a little hungry, we walk out and find a Shake Shack. I balk at the line, but Exa insists it’s worth the wait. I am dubious at best- in Montana, a line is of 5 people, not 75, but East Coast efficiency soon makes itself obvious. The line moves forward, Exa photographs us too much. My camera batteries fall out somewhere.

We sit under a table with a heat lamp, feeling like reptiles, and enjoy burgers, fries, and shakes. We look up train times. Kate finds her way to the right street and departs to Penn Station- we part with hugs, and I almost wanted to cry. Exa and I hopped into a taxi, and whisked away into the night.

A glorious day with some marvelous people. I needed to have a good day, I haven’t had one in a long time, and it was like every element lined up to make it so.

I already miss them.

 

A material Utopia: The Metropolitan Museum of Art collections

Aquamanile- Lion, c. 1400, Nuremburg

 The Lamentation, 1480, Spain

Detail of “The Hunters Enter the Woods”- Tapestry, c. 1500, Flemish

Velvet Panel, late 15th century, Italian

Standing Cup, late 16th century, Breslau, Germany

Minnekätschen, 1325-1350, German

Julius Caesar, by the workshop of Colin Nouahilher, French, 1541

Ivory casket, 14th century, French

Grisaille panel, 1240, French

Fresco on canvas, 12th century, Castile-Leon, Spain

Gold casket, 16th century, Italian

Once upon a time…

Or, in 2010, I went to New York City with my friend Exa. We took the train in from Westport where I was visiting my aunts, and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. WHAT. A. COLLECTION. My heart literally could not stop beating super fast the entire time we were there. It was a utopia of visual delight- my eyes were drawn to every corner, ceiling and floor tile- every surface had some form of art on it. I’ve recently begun the AWESOME process of going through the collections they post online, and I spent a good couple of hours drooling over some particular things.

Please revel in the glory of  material objects! That sounds bad, but they’re too lovely to ignore.

All images from http://www.metmuseum.org