New York is my city. I was born in the Yorkville section of Manhattan. I’ve lived in the metro area all my life. New Yorkers are as much a family as my wife, kids and grandchildren. Yet, I do not see the city as paradise. I accept it beauties and its ugliness, its violence and its peace.
That said, I’d like to share an experience my wife and I had not too long ago in Manhattan. Sitting against a ledge the ledge on 34th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues was extremely fascinating, to say the least. We watched various people, some riding bicycles or on roller skates, others simply walking hand in hand. There were homeless people, and there were many tourists enjoying the sights. I guess being in the greatest city in the world is fascinating to many. Cars, buses and cabs lined the streets as people made their way to various destinations.
And then there was a family from Baltimore. How did I know they were from Baltimore? I asked. (Well, they were waiting for their bus to take them on their five-hour journey back home.) They were having a dinner of rice, beans and a meat dish bought from a local vendor.
“I bet you don’t get that sort of food back home in Maryland,” I said.
They said that they did — but not as good or as expensive.
I asked how they enjoyed their day and was told that they had a great day, except for the weather, which was hot and sticky.
Nothing can be done about the weather we agreed, knowing that the stickiness of the day was acceptable since the cold would be upon us soon. They said they had visited the Statue of Liberty and saw Ground Zero for the first time. They described feeling sad for the many who lost their lives on that September day. Although they were tired, their trip home would afford them the luxury of a resting place in which to magnify the excitement of their day.
I admired these people for spending 10 hours on a bus, then a day packed with activities — and none of them seemed to have lost any of their enthusiasm. I have friends who would not go into New York City — and they only live on Long Island. Go figure.
On this particular day, my wife, Maria, and I went to the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy. We try going every couple of years. We took the Long Island Rail Road followed by the E train and arrived at the feast around 4 o’clock. The feast was mobbed, wall-to-wall people. No surprise. So we walked a bit then decided to have something to eat at a restaurant on the feast route.
After a fine meal that included wine, we walked up to Greenwich Village, one of my favorite spots in New York City. The scene in the Village is always exciting. We sat at an outdoor café contented simply to watch the world go by.
After a while of people gazing, we returned to Penn Station for our trip home. The day was great. We didn’t get home too late, and we enjoyed yet another adventure in New York City, in my mind, the greatest city in the world.
Despite the good fortune of having visited many places in the world, I am still fascinated and comforted by my hometown. Maybe it’s because I’ve never lost my enthusiasm for the Big Apple that I’m able to just sit back and watch the world go by.
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