We’ve arrived safely and I’m thrilled head to toe and soul to spirit to be here. New York has an amazing soul…I can’t put my finger on it but there’s something about the energy of this place that I find very bright and optimistic in a different way than anywhere I’ve ever been. In California the quality and quantity of light inspires optimism. The expanse of sea and the vibrancy of the colors breathes relaxation and playfulness and freedom. But here it’s something else…as if New York City holds in a condensed moment of history and humanity, all the energy of myriads of people’s hopes and dreams for a new and better life.
So much more to ponder and explore on that topic…
After a genuinely pleasant flight on Jet Blue (they really do have more legroom in coach than any other airline), we landed at JFK airport. It being late and having baby Aaron in tow, I took a cab over to Brooklyn. From the taxi window I could see the skyline of Manhattan. In the late autumn night the lights look cheerful and orchestrated. And I found myself pondering the way nature had prepared the land where those steel giants rise–a basin of ancient, once-molten rock lies under much of Manhattan. By night as the city lights glitter, the man made marvels seem a fitting tribute to the earth that undergirds them. And then I see the Empire State, and remember that the Twin Towers are no longer present, and consider how vulnerable we all are, as humanity, as fellow creatures living upon this earth. This great city built upon tough metamorphic rocks can be wounded, too.
From a fleeting glimpse through the taxi window I saw her–the Statue of Liberty–for the first time. Like the Manhattan skyline she was lit up for her evening appearance. Even from this rapid, distant vantage point I found myself moved. Lady Liberty…what a symbol for a city. No wonder I am moved by the soul of this place. Many cities I have visited have a masculine symbol, but not here. Which is interesting if I think about it. New York can appear so harsh and jaded and fast paced and no-nonsense. But it also has this maternal, graceful, regal femme symbol that is known through all the world. It’s like a picture of human ambition (the energy of the skyscrapers, the commerce, the buzzing punctuality, the strength of ideas) converging with mercy (the emblematic welcome to immigrants, the hopes and dreams of mothers and fathers, families and cultures). Fascinating.
My brother- and sister-in-law live in a charming brownstone in Brooklyn. Built in the 1920s, it has gleaming wood floors and many small rooms adjoined one after another. Within it feels surprisingly spacious, for the ceilings are high and the doorways are mostly double-wide (in bygone days there must have been French doors dividing the main rooms).
After I arrived we spent time watching our sons get to know each other. Aaron mostly scampers about after Sam, who is 3. Nathan who is Ben’s brother is a programmer for a design firm and Rebekah writes Young Adult fiction. I know it’s going to be a wonderful five days here.
It’s past midnight New York time. Everyone, including Aaron, is asleep. Except me, and I shall soon follow suit.