Saturday, July 27, 2013

My Third Place City- NYC

If another city could be your Third Place, which one would beckon you back time and again?

Perhaps it would be hard for you to choose, but for me NYC continues to woo me back, for all the same reasons that the Dunn Bros down the street continues to be my 'go to' cafe.  New York is reasonably close given our 15 minute drive to the airport from St. Paul.  The city is familiar and comfortable, with sights and smells that are nostalgic and yet still bring a thrill.  Not many cities can rival the raw energy and excitement of New York.  I can count on eating well and being witness to the old and the new every visit.  A favorite pleasure is striking up a conversation with a person or multiple people who will get my juices flowing, either through their entertaining gestures and point of view or just thoughtful friendly banter.  I even find the challenging interactions to be life affirming, a little squabble with someone who comes at the world from another angle is refreshing and keeps me on my toes a bit.  It is also something Minnesotan's generally frown upon, they would rather end any overt signs of conflict, which can be dull at times.

One of my favorite activities in NYC is looking down on it from on high, both from the plane as I arrive but also whenever I can enjoy the vista from a rooftop, a hotel room, a restaurant overlooking Central Park, etc.  That perspective makes me feel like I know the town, that it's scale isn't as daunting as it sometimes seems on street level in the hustle and bustle in amongst the noises, fumes and need to keep my wits about me.  Instead I can listen to it's unique commotion and watch it like a performance, maybe a symphony, delighting in the various players like the oboes or cellos and the crash or roar of unexpected drums.  

Queens was my home from 4th to 6th grade and we spent many evenings and weekends exploring Manhattan.  I remember some of my impressions from those days and it was wonderful for me to bring my own kids to New York when they were about the same age and watch them respond to the city.  The sparkle and gums on the sidewalks, the perfect cheesy crisp slice of pepperoni pizza late at night, gorgeous display windows, fancy waiters, climbing boulders and spinning around the subway car poles.  What a joy to relive certain memories and to share them and refresh them for myself while perhaps planting the seed for a lifelong third place for my children too.

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