Ok, new game for the locals that the visitors will surely appreciate.
What's the one thing you love most about NYC, the one little bit of fantasy that makes you appreciate NYC deep inside? Not the thing that you would tell someone else that they have to see before they leave, but the thing YOU love, the experiences that keeps you putting up with so many of the indignities that are part of life in a big, complex, expensive, challenging city.
For me, for a long time, it was that one week - not even a full week - when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, and if I catch it right, and am walking around the Reservoir when the leaves are falling in front of me, behind me, on me, and the sun is shining on and bouncing off the water, it's walking through enchantment. I don't catch it every year, especially since I moved downtown, so that's not my one thing anymore.
Then I would have said Manhattanhenge, not just for the incredible view of the sun setting, but rather, watching jaded New Yorkers stopping in the middle of the street...no, racing out when the traffic light changes, to stand in the middle of the east-west streets and the masses all holding up their phones to catch that one moment as the light of the sun is fading but is centered directly through the buildings. Watching the joy of we creatures formed from concrete and shaped by greasy halal fumes stop our quest for the next great margarita to honor the transient confluence of nature and the city grid for that one fleeting second when the fire hits the horizon - that's when I fall in love with New Yorkers again.
But my number one thing I love is the random mini affairs you have with kindred spirits. I had one of those on the subway yesterday, around 2:20 in the afternoon. After waiting in that awful, steam-weighted air on the platform, the train doors opened and I braced for the impact of the cold air and slid into a seat facing a woman all in black, carrying a stunning straw bag...I caught her eye and conversation ensued:
Woman 1: I love your bag! It's so chic!
Woman 2: Zara!
Woman 1: Really? Wow, it's the perfect bag.
Woman 2: Love your shoes.
Woman 1: Manolo
Woman 2: (nodding, slight knowing smile). And your bracelet...I have it in black and gold..but I don't know...
Woman 1: I love the black and gold! And you can wear it all year.
Woman 2: Well, the gold is kind of too yellow, and I couldn't wear it on a day like today...yours is perfect for today..
Woman 1: I know...so hot.
Woman 2: And frizzy (with a shrug of her shoulders, with hair that was perfectly sleek...PERFECTLY).
Woman 1: Living Proof...the products are great, even if they're a little pricey...
Train pulling into the station...
Woman 1: Bye, enjoy your day
Woman 2: You too, stay cool.
Woman 1: You too.
Eyes meet, longing goodbye of two women who know that they would be friends under more permanent circumstances...or not...but share a certain understanding of....things.
I love that about NYC.
And I cheated. I said one thing but I gave you three. And all free. But, as they say, timing is everything.