As I was waiting outside a quaint little health shop while my dinner was being prepared amongst alfalfa sprouts and gogi berry concoctions, I was imagining how I would describe the scene to you… In fact how I would describe the walk from my apartment, across two avenues, and down one street in order to pick up my health pizza (sounding decidely unhealthy sitting next to its menu-neighbor of homemade silky fofu). The route from A (my apartment on 11th Street and Avenue C) to B (the health restaurant serving, and I quote, “innovative organic cuisine” on 10 street and Avenue A) entailed a walk through Nigeria, past Hipsters Paradise (sidestepping the Middle East and Italy-ville in the form of cafe Vinieros on the way), with step or two in wonderland (or did the man in a full velvet suit, pointy shoes and a top hat and the lady in a bo-peep dress wonder into my land?) in order to get to the above mentioned oragically innovative restaurant in the heart of the East Village NY. I must say however, that while I waited for the above mentioned health pizza I sat next to a man on the bench outside who ordered three separate and consecutive servings of the same flavour soup, I thought I might have detoured through the nuthouse too (especially when I discovered it had been enriched with dulse, basil and a dash of propolis that boosts the body’s healing power…). And all of this in 15 minutes on Sunday while I pop out to get some dinner…
Welcome to my world. The inexplicable city of NY where the bizarre becomes the everyday and normality is but a rumour. It keeps you alive. On your toes. An adult’s playground which prevents you from ever submerging into the mundane. Nutcases are your neighbors and inspiration is your daily bread.
Last weekend while I headed out to the Mets’ stadium to watch them take on the Yankees in my first baseball game, I read Elwyn Brooks White’s take on the city on a poster in the subway. Being part of the category “the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something” this resonanted with my love for this place:
“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter–the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.”
Who knows which were natives, commuters or settlers in my dash outside for dinner on this summer’s night, but the passion was as evident as the humidity.