I. THE HORIZONTALS
II. THE VERTICALS
III. THE PROSE
There is a back-breaking word for rhetoric that substitutes a part for the whole or a whole for its part: synecdoche. Though spring is not yet over, it is likely that the week my son and I spent in New York on the cusp of March and April this year will be our synecdochic stand-in for a whole season. Sunny but mostly chilly, with the occasional flash of exhausting heat, it required the frequent donning and shedding of layers and managed to reawaken bodies accustomed to winter’s steady roll. Bifurcated by a consequential couple of days in Connecticut, our week was also long, memorable, and as transformative as befits a time of rebirth. Friendships were re-ignited, smells recollected, appetites brought back to life and lovingly sated. A long-lost “before” was integrated with the nearly-nine-year-old “after” that is my son, Anker. New York was not so much re-appraised but re-found—and it turned out to be warmer to the touch than the city that is our home of record. A mother and son agree that this week in this place at this time was among the most splendid we’ve had anywhere, ever.
Here’s our top ten (a list as idiosyncratic and debatable as lists get, not to mention it’s not even ten items long):
Staying at Sister City, a trim new hotel in the Bowery.
Walking along the High Line. (More than once.)
Trying the Liquid Vitality Elixir Shot at The Butcher’s Daughter (incidentally, a meat-free establishment), then going back for more. And more.
Seeing Stomp (experiencing is probably the better term).
Studying Manhattan from high on up. (Our view was from the Empire State Building and you can see it in the two first horizontals.)
Losing track of time at Paragon Sports.
Discovering the Survivor Tree at the 9/11 Memorial.
Splurging on a paradigm-shifting meal at ABCV.
Attending a phenomenal production of Julius Caesar at Brooklyn’s TFANA.
Timing our jaunt in Central Park to coincide with the first T-shirt-weather Saturday of the year.
Savoring the messy, delectable food at La Esquina.
Knocking on the door of my old Brooklyn apartment and being invited in by its current inhabitant, a guy just a bit like the person I was when I lived there.
Going out for the naturally leavened pizza at Una Pizza Napoletana. (And then—this can’t be underestimated—downloading the new episode of Billions days after getting home to find the opening scene shot right at Una, our own two barstools in the foreground of the shot.)
That we never made it to Times Square, MOMA, or The Met doesn’t diminish our sense of triumph. In fact, it’s as if by omitting these and other must-see stops on our tour that we’ve upped our odds for a swift return. (Madison Ave’s DDB headquarters—my first and last place of full-time employment—is also on this list, as is a poignant moment at the entrance to a building on the south side of West 61st.)
IV. THE VERSE
An Ode I’ve Owed
Thank you for taking the time
City squared, set in the round
Your streets gleamed clean
Your air pure, bright
Noise softer than expected,
Lights just so, not too bright
The scent that of utility made fine
The visitor ignored, allowed
But doted on at the same time
Assertion and reduction
Expression and induction
By millions in purposeful motion
Minding their own business yet
Inclined to return a smile
Thank you for not changing the locks
And for still knowing my voice
Not only did you not erase
What I had written on your walls
In fact you’d kept an eye on me
You knew how different to appear
So that I’d know that I was home
Note: All photos taken by the author with the Fuji X-T20 and the Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 lens. The eighteen at top follow the aspect ratio I usually deploy to see the world. The dozen verticals, in turn, are better suited to smartphone screens and perhaps also to telling the story of a city itself eminently more vertical than horizontal. As for the poem, it’s a song in the making.