"Why think about that when all the golden land’s ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?
"…that I was going to live in New York eventually and that everything in between was just a horrible intermission. I’d spent those sixteen years imagining what New York was going to be like. I thought it was going to be the most exciting, magical, fraught-with-possibility place that you could ever live in; a place where if you really wanted something, you might be able to get it; a place where I’d be surrounded by people I was dying to be with. And I turned out to be right." — Nora
And then the dreams break into a million tiny pieces. The dream dies. Which leaves you with a choice: you can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream.
Libra: This week, try to let your muscles get loose, try to let your thoughts wander, try not to worry too much about all your big plans. You can think of yourself like you’re made of water, you can think of yourself like you aren’t even solid. You can take on so many forms. You can move at so many different speeds. You can stay home and watch movies all week long, if you need to. You can sit on the porch and watch the sky. You can walk and walk and walk until you know what to do.
And walk and walk and walk I did. Fast and slow. Up and down. Flowing, like water, all over Manhattan. Flowing, like water, out of New York. Flowing, like water, back down to Maryland. Flow like water — from home to home.
"It’s up to you…to be a super hero. It’s up to you…to be like nobody."
10th Street. Tompkins Square Park. Between Avenues A & B. Sitting in the early afternoon sunlight, one last time, on my favorite city stoop.
Last day in NYC, while we’re at it, and last, late taste of lovely, warm, slow, summer days.
Writing a letter. A love letter. To myself. To New York.
Maryland to New York.
New York to Maryland.
A girl of both. A woman of both. However different, both, forever. Both, always.
Alas it’s time to go. To go home, one more time, and grab my bags. To a new home, in Baltimore, with new beginnings.
I saunter towards both beneath the shade of the trees. No rush, to go, to stay, to arrive, to leave. Instead, I think ahead to lunch. Where to eat? What final bite? Like New York, the possibilities are endless. That favorite slice, that perfect taco, NoLIta? And where, along the way, will I drop my letter?
At that very moment, I walk past a mail man. I stop and ask him for directions: “Excuse me — where is the nearest post box?”
He readjusts the letters and packages under his arm, flipping them over so the plasticky magazine sheath flashes sunlight in my eyes. I look down, as if knowing. Esquire is on top.
"Right here," he says with a smile, as he reaches out his hand.
I give him my letter. My letter to New York. My letter to myself.
"Thanks so much," I say, though he really has no idea.
Then he smiles that wide, real smile that only New Yorkers ever know. The kind of smile that outsiders never get to see. The kind of smile that outsiders never even know exists. Because it’s only for us. We give it to each other. As an understanding. As a quiet respect. As a little gift.
It takes a lot to get here. It takes a lot to make it here. We trod the same streets. We miss the same trains. None of us can afford the rent. We’re a million different people, trying to survive a million different lives. We don’t have time to wait for the traffic light; we don’t have time to wait for our change. And yet somehow, some days, on some unmarked city street, on some forgettable weekday morning — wherever you came from, wherever you’re going — we take a second to stop. To help each other out. To have each other’s back. To get each other by. To survive, out there, right here, in this big, messy, dreamy, possible city — together.
A coffee on the house. A dollar in your cup. A swipe of a subway card. A smile.
"You’re welcome," he says, giving me just that. "You have a nice day."
I smile back at him, that very same smile, and off I go.
And last day or not, I do.
Found a lot of trouble out on Avenue B
But I tried to keep the overhead low
Farewell to the city and the love of my life
At least we left before we had to go
And love won’t play any games with you
Anymore if you want ‘em to
So we better shake this old thing out the door
I’ll always be thinkin’ of you
I’ll always love you though New York.
I’ll always love you though New York…
New York, New York.
East Village, not Greenwich Village.
Washington Square, not Times Square.
Chinatown, not Little Italy.
Bleecker, not Broadway.
Old Town Bar on 18th Street, not McSorley’s on 7th.
Joe’s Pizza on Carmine, not Ben’s on Spring.
House-tun, not Hyoo-stun.
Not SoHo. Period.
Courtesy of Esquire.
What am I going to miss? Everything.
Boy, this is really a great city, I don’t care what anybody says - it’s really a knock-out, you know?
—Woody Allen, Manhattan
Something I wrote a number of years ago for my favorite restaurant in all of Manhattan. A magical night. Many magical nights there, actually. My whole romance with this city tucked into one tiny restaurant off a cobblestone street. Fitting, for my last supper. Fitting, too, that we went and it was closed. Next time, though. And the replacement, its sister restaurant, certainly did do. Tinis with Teeny and a nice, slow, last night.
Tucked in between two of the busiest avenues of Lower Manhattan, there sits a wide, squat, dimly-lit, little street by the name of Bond. Cobblestone and damp, it beckons back to old New York – to turn of the century New York, like a sepia photograph of shop-carted merchants and street kids on stoops and molls waving scarves out flophouse windows. Or to recent-past New York, like a gritty black-and-white Polaroid of young Warholian artists and Bowery punks stumping out cigarettes and standing in line for rock and roll. Once theatered and row-homed, Bond Street’s lofts are now inhabited by high-end fashion designers and expensive sushi, by Brooklyn transplants and Chuck Close; it’s spotted past and lasting mystique having lured in, for years, the avant-garde of both near and far.
But tucked away even further, safe from the stream of taxis down Broadway and the stamp of high heels outside a handful of nightclubs, barely noticeable from the corner of the block, hides a rustic farmhouse kitchen.
It’s easy to miss – the burnt-orange awning is faded; there’s no clear name sign out front, no bright lights beaming onto the sidewalk outside – and the regulars, since it first opened as an antique store in the early 90s before evolving into a love-run enoteca, are happy to keep it that way. Their little city escape. Instead old-fashioned bulbs and candlelight bounce about inside, off the copper bar and low tin ceiling and between the hanging pots and pans. It’s absorbed into all the old wood and exposed brick and stonewalls. As does the sound, which fills the room – the hum of conversation, the clinking of wine glasses, the clanking of forks, that one last swipe of a finger across the bottom of a bowl – and adds a sort of warmth to the air.
You could be in Florence, or Sevilla, but you’re definitely not in the Lower East Side. It’s definitely not the dead of winter. But there you are – it’s March and you’re in Manhattan, just north of horrendous Houston. The sidewalks are frozen and there’s snow on the sill. Your glass is filled with a burgundy picked from the leather-bound bible kept safe behind the bar. You pinch dustings of sea salt into a vibrant puddle of olive oil before focaccia slowly swallows it up. You’re twirling a spoonful of homemade tagliatelle ribbons that have been bathing in butter and cheese, a few chanterelles. You’re serving out tepees of cavolo nero – Tuscan black kale with garlic, anchovy, lemon, layers of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the most perfect crouton you’ll ever eat.