The Witty Wordsmith

New York, late winter, the sky is an intense shade of grey. The trees remained bare of any lively bright leaves. In the midst of the eerie grey, a remarkable bit of sunshine played peek-a-boo behind a rainy cloud.

On such an idyllic winter’s day, I set off on foot for St. Nicholas Park in Harlem. It’s a most wonderful park, which fades into hilly fields of green. Regardless of the cold, I’ve always adored sitting on a park bench and reading a good book. Quality time with a book is my ideal form of therapy. I fade into a character’s shoes and forget any of the day troubles.

On one riveting expedition, I sought a most wonderful park bench. As, I picked a perfect little spot for literary madness, the cold winds penetrated through my layers, and pea coat.

For once in my life, I shivered. The goose bumps on my arm grew more sensitive. At that point, I had to look elsewhere for a romantic date with my used book from the Strand bookstore.

I wandered through Harlem’s Hamilton’s Heights neighborhood. It’s the perfect backdrop for any quirky film (Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums was filmed there). The brownstones are eccentric yet sophisticated characters in their own right.

The hills have provided an escape from the quintessentially Manhattan painting. Bay windows, dramatic stoops and old world charm could inspire poets, painters and playwrights of life to create a proper work of art.

While heading up the hill toward Broadway, I was craving a hot chocolate from the Chipped Cup (my favorite coffee shop, uptown). On that pleasantly quiet Sunday, everyone had the same idea.

The quaint coffee shop was filled with patrons. I was disappointed, since I just wanted was to read a good book. So, I headed back down to 145 street.

To my disappointed, Dunkin Donuts was also filled to the brim with people. I didn’t want to go back to my apartment, since I was really craving a coffee shop. Instead of giving up hope, I took an unexpected turn.

The Eighth avenue subway provided the ears with a classic sound, which only a raspy record player could rival. I found my reading spot, a seat on the subway platform. Even though, the subway has many distractions, I’ve always found it an easy place to concentrate on a book there.

When the A train arrived, I boarded it merrily. I even found a seat. However, distraction found me. “Why don’t you put a chip in me, so you know where I am at all times, said a girlfriend to an equally angry boyfriend. They fought. They whole train watched. Trying to hold back laughter, I tried very hard to not loose concentration on my book.

The arguing heightened into theatrical satire. “Fuck it, I can’t think with this racket going on. At least, there aren’t break-dancers on this train, ” said I. “Showtime,” yelled a boy with a boom box.” Break-dancers with a giant boom box appeared from the blue to everyone’s annoyance.

My eyes didn’t leave my book. Anyhow, my brain was completely distracted. I made it to West 4th Street. Randomly, I decided a cannoli would be amazing.

So, I boarded the F train to Second Avenue and ended up in the East Village. I headed up First Avenue and into the old world charm of Veniero’s (legendary dessert restaurant in the East Village). I ordered a cannoli and opted for a cappuccino rather than a hot chocolate.

I took out my book and found a swell place to concentrate. It only took a long walk, two trains and another somewhat long walk to find my literary Zen. Regardless, my literary Zen was a whole lot better with a delicious cannoli accompanying it.

Illuminate Yourself With A bright Red Tie

The immense fog of San Francisco married the flurries of Alaska. Afterwards, they traveled east to New York for a dream honeymoon. They made their presence known, engulfing the city’s tenement masterpieces into a sea of grey.

It was a sight to wake up to. While, a part of me, wanted to order food from seamless web, watch endless documentaries ranging from fashion photography to the art of sushi making and (just plain) hibernate, the Indiana Jones in me longed for an adventure.

Rather, than having wanderlust about the lost arc or being chased by a giant rock, I got all dolled up. I placed by tortoise shell glasses on, which accentuated my navy blue pea coat.

Something was missing. I dug deep in the far reaches of my closet. My archaeological dig did not produce a missing link to the T-Rex family, but I did find a precious relic.

“My red tie, here you are, ” I said to myself. I tied it over my grey blue shirt and put my favorite grey cardigan on. It was more Upper West Side than Indiana Jones, but it was most fitting for adventure seeking in the city.

I gained fuel at my favorite diner on Amsterdam Ave. Afterwards; I walked up 72nd Street toward Central Park. In the midst of snow and intense grey, New York lacked color. It was the equivalent of fading into an old black and white film. The only hint of color was leaping from my fiery red tie.

The pitter pater of snow persisted. I reached the imposing apartment blocks of Fifth Avenue. Snow banks, Barney’s NY shopping bags and well-heeled ladies in fur coats created a most quintessential Upper East Side memory.

I walked toward Lexington Avenue with the intent to grab the 4/5 train downtown for an afternoon nosh (snack) and cappuccino. While craving my adrenaline rush from a coffee bean, I experienced a cinematic moment. Truman Capote referred to Lexington Ave as charmless.

Walking from the East seventies to the fifties.  Lex (which I walked on a million times or so. Lex is how we refer to it here) was actually proving to be quiet lovely. Old bookshops, cafes, mom n’ pop restaurants, pre-war buildings and side streets with imposing brownstones birthed a classically New York scene.

I saw the F train station at 63rd street. “How wonderful, I’ll take the F train to the Lower East Side,” said I. When I reached the station, it was a confusing mismatch of platforms and escalators. In my whole history in New York, I had only been lost on the subway once.

This time around, the lack of platform signs indicating uptown/downtown confused me. I was officially lost in translation and on a Queens bound F train. Rather than becoming flustered, I thought to myself ” oh this train stops in Roosevelt Island (an island in the middle of the East River), I’ll just switch over to a downtown train there.

When I stepped off the subway at Roosevelt Island, curiosity captured my heart. I saw another intense set of escalators, which were so high, I wondered if I would be dancing in a sea of clouds.

The explorer in me wanted to see a part of the city, which I had never explored before. As I leaped out of the F train station, the snow morphed into a light dusting of frost.

Roosevelt island was filled with steel and glass modern apartments. However, one sight would be the red tie to an otherwise colorless day.

My eyes met the Queens-borough Bridge. It jutted across the island. The tram moved slowly (there’s a tram which takes residents from Roosevelt to Manhattan) in the midst of the background of the Manhattan skyline.

It provided me with the holy grail of New York memories. I strolled around the island a bit and finally headed downtown. After entering the subway, I could officially say “I’ve been on Roosevelt Island.

After exiting the Second Avenue subway station, I marveled at the grey skies. The snow stopped. I walked toward a coffee shop, which had vintage rock n’ roll posters and plenty of electrical outlets (to charge my phone). While trying to resist the temptation of heading inside Katz’s, an epiphany came into my brain.

That particular day with it’s snow filled skies, Kodak worthy pictures of the Queens borough bridge & overall happy spirit, will remain one of those special nostalgic memories. “Wow, sometimes, I really am the Indiana Jones of Manhattan. If Indiana Jones wore a bunch of cardigans and wrote a blog, of course,” said I.

Ma, Where Do Teletubbies live?

When a gay boy leaps out of the closet, the doors open into a modern day Oz. There’s a yellow brick road, which leads into a most majestic land. Purple teletubbies parachute from the turquoise sky.

“Welcome to gay-landia,” sing the four loveable teletubbies. Dorothy, the tin man, lion and scarecrow skip down the yellow-brick road, passing out skittles to the newly out gay. Prince Charming rides into the hilly green terrain on unicorn.

“Hello, I am a gay prince. Marry Me,” says Prince Charming. So, he sweeps the gay off his feet. They ride toward a castle and live happily ever after.

This is the ideal painting for every gay who’s come out of the darkened closet. However, if this were actually true to life, we wouldn’t have so many sad love ballads.

As a gay boy, who loved Rent (the musical) too much, I wondered who would be the Burt to my Ernie (insert Sesame Street reference)? In non-Sesame Street language, it’s called a boyfriend.

“I see you dating a guy with an English accent. For some reason, I can see you two getting dressed up, while cooking omelets in the morning, said my high school friend, Grace. “

While she spoke, I delved into imagination land. More specifically, I saw myself in a kitchen covered in French country style wallpaper with an English chap. We laughed as we cracked eggs; fired up the stove and made gourmet omelets.

“That’s it,” I proclaimed. As I journeyed back to my high school reality, I uttered the following words, “I must meet a boy, who I can make omelets with.

It took a while to meet a boy. Growing up in a conservative town and high school, didn’t exactly equate an enormous pool of eligible bachelors. However, there were cool spots for gay boys, especially arty ones to meet.

One particular night, I went to the local indie coffee shop, Back 2 the Grind. It hosted bands, art and was a meeting place for the town’s alternative and gay crowd. While, sipping on a cappuccino, I spotted my friends.

Unexpectedly, I took a trip down the yellow brick road. He stood there, looking most ideal. Rather, than riding on a unicorn, he walked out from bustling sidewalk.

I found out we grew up close to each other, but had never met. My brown eyes met his blue eyes. My already rosy cheeks were on fire. I could explain the sensation, which followed.

“Wow, these feel like hot flashes. I remember my mom telling me about this. Wait, am I getting menopause? I naively thought to myself. “No, no men can’t menopause, (still debating this one)” I later assured myself.

There wasn’t a Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin-Man, lion or teletubbies, who could save me. “What was going on?” I thought to myself. The electricity ran through the wires keeping my brain intact. I could hear the song, “kiss me” by Six Pence none the richer playing in my head. The sensation went from scary to enchanting.

“Wow, this is better than Oz,” I thought to myself. I cleared the sweat from my brow as I continued talking to the fellow. My friend whispered, “he’s pretty cute right?” Shaking my head “yes,” I bravely continued the conversation.

My face turned from pepto bismol pink to a cherry tomato red. The fellow did not seem too talkative and the conversation turned into blur from my nerves. Like the mighty Lion (in the Wizard of Oz), I gained some courage.

“Can, I get your number?” I asked. “Shit, I really did it,” was my initial thought. He gave me his number. I stared at it a bit before calling. Finally, I just pressed the damn number.

We talked, but he didn’t seem interested. However, we made plans, but he canceled. Eventually, I was rejected.  I am sure he couldn’t make a good omelet. I do have a special intuition about these things.

It was my first foray into the world of rejection. It was more evil than the wicked witch of the west. As time, went on I couldn’t just tap my ruby red slippers and wish it away.

Instead, I developed a thick skin. After all, I’ll always have my own private Oz. It’s that mystical land where teletubbies sing, the rain consists of brightly colored skittles and all the men can make an extraordinary omelet.

Snowy Empire

Somebody please cue to the Star Wars theme. In a galaxy not so far away, lived a lad. Like any proper New York singleton, he resided in a modest fifth floor walk-up.

One morning he glanced out his window. There was snow, snow and more snow (not unusual, but hey it’s winter). “It looks like the set of the Empire Strikes Back,” he proclaimed.  Naturally, it appeared that way, if the “Empire Strikes Back” were set in New York City. Like a courageous Luke Skywalker facing Darth Vader, he braved the elements. Successfully, he reached the subway and made it to work, in the face of another blizzard.

As expected, I am referring to yours truly and my random fascination with Star Wars. I didn’t have Chewbacca, C-3PO, Hans Solo, Yoda or Princess Lea on the voyage from Harlem to Grand Central Station. So, this is where I fast-forward the story.

While galloping around the icy sidewalks of Harlem, I thought to myself “no major blizzard (9.5 inches of snow) will keep me away from a wonderful walk. I felt triumphant, as I successfully maneuvered through the frozen canyons and icy puddles. The Star Wars theme continued to play in the radio station of my brain, ” Cardigns 95.5 FM- New York.”

Then with much disruption, radioactive transmission stopped. It finally happened, I had met my match with black ice. I flipped backwards, landing on the slippery pavement. My stuff flew alongside the perfectly appointed brownstone block.

Wait isn’t this the part, where my life flashes before my eyes? I thought in great panic. I expected to see a montage of memorable events, then the unthinkable happened. “Oh yeah, I didn’t bump my head, I landed on my tuckus,” said I, as I picked myself up slowly

The fall really hurt, but I attempted to find humor in my mishap. While walking home, I watched every step more carefully.

As the weekend approached, the Jedi did indeed return. I was enjoying the snow, immensely. Regardless of experiencing pain from the fall, I still adored the wintery weather. On the weekend, I took a journey into Central Park.

Snow fell from the sky, while blinding the eye. There were snowmen; families sledded down the powdery hills and an unexpected musical accompaniment. While there was a commercial break on Cardigans FM, I was serenaded by the sounds of a saxophone player. It made the perfect soundtrack to a most memorable New York moment.

Hello Cupcake

There are many fabulously cliché places to meet gay men in New York City. The gym counts as the most clichéd place. Many New York gays love the David Barton gym, which is the ideal marriage between weight lifting and a disco. Perfectly sculpted men, perform squats while subtly (or not so subtly) scanning the room. For those of us not willing to pay the high monthly gym membership, there’s always the more obvious option.

Gay bars are where exercise routines go to shit. Let’s face it, we love boozy adult beverages and liquid lunches. These dens to wine and whisky are superb settings to make friends.  Also, there’s the possibly of meeting that cute arty guy with a colorful collection of tattoos. Bars rarely spell romance. They can be reliable for a little fun.

For those of us who are more romantic at heart, there’s the best cliché of all. Strolling down any New York sidewalk, equates a certain amount of hope. That hope is ignited by possibly meeting the world’s most wonderful man.

As in any good New York cliché, something romantic is blasting (i.e. Danke Shoen, Just the way you look tonight). Then you bump into him, en route to Eataly (for panini, of course). He has a most charming smile, dresses impeccably and sounds a bit like Hugh Grant. You date then get married. Magically, you find a charming apartment and spend the rest of your life making people declare, aww-aren’t they swell?”

Those scenarios rarely happen. Instead, we must find happiness elsewhere. In the dead of winter, the next best thing to cuddling with a man is dessert. Nothing says romance like scarfing down a cannoli at Veniero’s with friends. For a few precious moments, the sweet sensation is comparable to a romantic fling.

Since Veniero’s isn’t on any every street corner, one institution is inevitable. The cupcake shop resides in virtually every New York neighborhood and fulfills the sweet tooth’s cravings. While trying out a new cupcake shop with Krista, I ordered a very buttery cupcake. When we sat down for afternoon sweet nosh, I was feeling not so wonderful about my dating life.

I validate myself and find joy in my own contributions to the world. However, it’s a compliment to receive attention from a guy you’re interested in. That factor had been missing lately. I took in a deep breath and bit into my cupcake.

A group of guys walked. My gay-dar was down. I texted Krista and asked “are they gay?” from across the table. We weren’t quite sure, but they sat right behind us.

I heard the words “cheerleading and Chelsea” in one declarative sentence. “Must be gay,” I proclaimed over text message. One guy in particular, just caught my eye. We had a terrible time moving after our afternoon nosh.

Therefore, we continued to sit. The three guys got up to leave. I looked toward the guy, whom I fancied. To my surprise, he didn’t look away. Instead, he kept looking. “No way, this feels magical” I thought. That unexpected moment of eye contact was amazing.

After the best eye contact ever, I was in a romantic daze. The eye-to-eye contact was sweeter than any cupcake. It made feel good, even after having a ton of rejection previously. More importantly, it gave me something to write about.

Think Unicorns

Pretzels, potato chips & goldfish (sushi’s cheesy cracker cousin), all foods I thoroughly enjoy. However, one life event made these delicious foods, a forbidden fruit. Let’s back track. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in the East Village. I wandered around First Avenue, pondering life deep philosophical questions. Should I have Indian for lunch? Or Thai?

There was a tingle in my mouth. Wow, something just doesn’t feel right. I called my dad. “Antoine, have you not been wearing a scarf over your mouth?” he asked with a stern tone. ” No, I never do,” I replied. ” It’s bad for your teeth, wear a scarf. It’s too cold out there,” he replied. I didn’t believe I could actually get frostbite in my mouth, especially after being quite accustomed to New York winters.

The next night, the temperatures dropped dramatically. As expected, the Polar Vortex had become a part of New York daily life like the deli or a metro card. Regardless, of the Polar Vortex, I took advantage of the empty sidewalks. I had a most magnificent walk on Manhattan Avenue in Harlem. Everything was quintessentially adorable and bursting with character. Sadly, the beauty didn’t diminish the pangs of pain, which eventually developed in my mouth. “Ouch,” I said.

I convinced myself, it was nothing, just an unrealistic case of frostbite in my mouth. When I rose from slumber, the pangs of pain arose with me. “Shit, I think I am going to have to see the dentist.” Casually, I browsed the Internet to make an appointment. As I bit into my croissant sandwich, all hell broke loose. I was in too much pain.

In a great panic, I made an appointment. There was something cool and hip about my dentist’s office. There were plenty of Rolling Stone magazines to read and good people watching from the Union Square crowd.

My dentist walked in. He looked more like a recent art school graduate than a traditional dentist, which put me at ease, since I am in the creative field.

He brought me for an X-ray and as expected, bad news. ” Yeah, you have a wisdom tooth, which needs to be pulled out. This going to be harder, since you’re 30 and they typically get more imbedded within the gum as time goes by. Oh and you also have an infection from this. You need to take both teeth, he said.” I opted for only one tooth, since it was cheaper.”

While numbing my gums for the archaeological dig, I braced for madness. Also, I prepared myself for a voyage into a mystical land, which mirrored English countryside. It had unicorns and jellybeans blossoming from the ground. “Okay, kiddo are you ready? He asked. “Oh yeah,” I said terrified, but said with great confidence. The digging began.

The dig for the tooth intensified. I could feel the pressure as he strategically dug for that precious relic. A few minutes later, I experience a tug and surprise, my wisdom tooth came out. “Congratulations, do you want to take a picture for your friends to see?” he asked. Naturally, I pulled out my iPhone and snap. Then I went my merry way to Walgreens for some fun medications.

After my adventure in the pharmacy, I took the N train to Times Square (where I transfer to the West Side trains). Naturally, I was in terrible pain, as the N, Q & R trains stopped running properly. Feeling loopy from surgery, I tried to take a cab home, which didn’t quite work out for me. In the middle of chaotic Herald Square, I schlepped it to Seventh Avenue and got on a 2/ Uptown train.

The subway was itself typical sardine can. I desperately wanted a seat. The thespian in me had an idea. Back in 1988, when I was 4. I pretended to be dizzy, playing to my unsuspecting cousin’s emotions. All I wanted was a soda and I knew I could get it by being dramatic. I was ready for performance, but no need. The subway emptied at Times Square and I got a seat.

Arriving at my apartment in Harlem, I opened up the fridge and ate cheese. I had to consume the cheddar like a mouse, since I could barely move my jaw. Two pills went were taken and the pain was gone. Eventually, I started feeling normal. However, booze and crunchy foods were out of the question.

Until the next episode of dental surgery, I will jam out to “Geek Stink Breath” by Green Day. The music video reminds me of my journey into the land of dentistry and teeth pulling.

Experimental Art

For a few lucky residents in Riverside (CA), their backyard is an old cemetery. It’s not the typical, bland cemetery. Instead, the antique houses face marvelous tombstones and lush green grounds. It screams character and utter quiet. This is an ideal location, if you’re an honorary member of the Addams Family, of course.

Though, I adored the charming neighborhood with it’s creepy views, I didn’t think I would ever have any fascinating memories there. Until, one day, my perception changed. At that time, I was dating a budding artist. We met in art class. I admired his talent. He also had great style. At first, I wasn’t quite sure if he was gay.

Instead, I started talking about Sex & the City and somehow, he was mesmerized. “Surprise, he came out of the closet.” We spent a significant amount of time together. He always had wild music playing. His room was a tribute to 60′s pop art and colorful collages. He also had pet rabbits, which typically smelled fowl.

At that time, we both lived at home. It made dating rigorous, since his parents didn’t support the gay thing. One day, we decided to go to his favorite make-out corner. He had me drive up a hill. The winding roads led to the old cemetery. I parked the car and we made out. I opened my eyes and there was reality again. The place was slightly eerie, but left a memorable moment.  On the upside, it was a quiet place for a kiss.

I drove him back home. Eventually, we lost touch, but found each other years later. I was happy to know he was dating and pursuing his love of art. As I sit in my New York apartment feeling nostalgic, I giggle. In old fifties films, there was always that make out corner. Mine will always be remembered as the cemetery in Riverside, Ca.

Sh*t Polar Bears Say

Hibernation is for bears. Rather, than hibernating like an ordinary bear, I decided to make every day a New York adventure. I channeled my inner polar bear and made the most out of the abnormally cold temperatures.  Initially, I was also seeking a Boo-Boo to compliment my Yogi (looking for a date).

Luckily, I found the perfect sidekick via okcupid. My previous dates with Boo-Boo (his nickname) were quite wonderful. Therefore, I was delighted to plan another riveting outing. This time, I organized a museum trip, which would follow with an authentic Chinese dinner in (you guessed it) Chinatown.

I bought my museum ticket and sipped on a cappuccino, while watching hipsters being (well) hipsters. As I amused myself in the world of hipster lingo, my date ran quite late. I glanced at my watch and he was nowhere to be found. I went upstairs to tour the exhibit, “art from the Eastern Bloc.

When I returned to the lobby of the museum, Boo Boo was nowhere to be found. He didn’t even respond to my texts. Hence, I had a first. Within all my years dating in New York City, I hadn’t experienced being “stood up.” Rather than returning to my apartment and to wallow in rejection, I marched to the dive-y noodles restaurant for a “foodie’s day out.”

Snow fell from the sky. The Lower East Side faded into Chinatown. The streets were more bustling. While crossing Canal Street, I glanced at the Manhattan Bridge to my left. As car horns serenaded my eardrums. There was something comforting and even charming about that non-shalant moment.

“I maybe single, but I am not alone. At least I am in New York City, where dreams come true.” After that sappy moment, I gave Boo-Boo a piece of my mind and felt so much better telling him off . In the wise motto of New York across the five boroughs, I yelled a big old ” fuggedaboutit.” I then filed that moment under, “another edition of dating in city.”

The Traveling Beard

A bearded man can’t live off berries and leaves of the forest, alone. Hence, I was getting my carbohydrate fix at the local Latino diner. It a most wonderful place with a long counter top, telenovelas playing on the TV & salsa music whisking diner patrons to exotic locations.

In the midst of traditional Latin foods, such as Mofongo (fried plantans smashed with different fillers), beef stewed, empandas, Moros y Cristianos (black beans mixed with white rice), I ordered the spaghetti (granted I usually go for a more traditionally Cuban/Puerto Rican dish).

After indulging with a bit of guilt, I ordered a tres leches cake. Inevitably, I experienced food coma. Therefore, a long walk was needed. However, I longed for a bit more people traffic.

I took the C train to Columbus Circle, for an after dinner walk around Ninth Avenue. I love my walks around Hell’s Kitchen. It’s New York reigning gay-borhood. The tall buildings, eclectic restaurants, car horns, neighboring bright lights of Times Square and narrow sidewalks, feel quintessentially Manhattan.

As I cut off slow pedestrians on the northwest corner of 53& Ninth, I made eye contact with a cute guy with red hair. I kept on walking, but really wasn’t sure why he was starring my direction. While walking toward Eighth Ave, I happened to make eye contact with another guy. This time, it felt like attraction at first sight, but the shy part of me kept walking. Then, I strolled back towards Ninth Ave and surprise, more eye contact.

I wouldn’t say I was a Casanova or a pretty boy in any sense. However, I wondered, why out of all nights am I suddenly a Casanova? I touched my face and realized I was scruffy. “Oh yeah, I had let my beard grow,” said I. In a sense, I was rebelling against appearing overly well put together. However, guys were responding more to the “I don’t care kind of attitude.”

Since, I was still a singleton in New York, I decided to keep the beard. Armed with a slight beard, shoes, which need to be polished and a little tummy, I still went out and enjoyed life. Even, if I hadn’t caught any attention that night, I’d still proudly strut my stuff.

Owl Perched On A Tree

Harlem is one of New York’s most charming neighborhoods. Handsome brownstone blocks collide with quintessentially old New York tenements. Coffee shops, which could easily fit in 1960’s Greenwich Village, sit next to bodegas. Hills dominate the landscape, illustrating the diverse terrain of Manhattan.

This is a neighborhood I call, home. I have friends who ended up in this slice of the New York pizza pie. Some may regard it as the Arctic of Manhattan, since it’s rather high up the island. However, it retains the magic of old New York, which has not been lost in gentrification.

On a late autumn evening, I encountered a first world problem. “Shit, I left my phone charger at my friend’s apartment,” I declared. I called up (my friend) Anna and made the trek to the west 140’s. As I walked around Uptown’s most quintessential sidewalks, every sight delighted me. The majesty of hilly St Nicholas Park, impressive architectural style and even the roar of the subway made an enchanting memory.

When I reached Anna’s apartment, she invited me to hang out in her fire escape. Even though, I played it cool, I was secretly frightened about the idea of sitting so high up with a gapping hole in close proximity. Instead of just grabbing my charger and bolting, I made my way through a narrow window and into the fire escape.

I sat next to Anna. The jitters persisted as she poured me a glass of wine. As I took a quick gulp of the Pinot Gris, the fear slowly diminished. The sirens, ambulances and funky music (she played) produced an exotic calming sound. I looked across our sprawling neighborhood. Like any proper New Yorker, I tried to find that quintessential Manhattan skyline view.  The one with the Empire State Building and GE building glowing against modest low rise buildings.

It was nowhere to be found. Instead, the towering projects glowed with yellow lights. Further east was the FDR (highway) with its free flowing traffic. While directly below were the perfectly manicured gardens of brownstone buildings. We talked and drank more wine, but little did I know my very first world problem would birth a New York moment.

I conquered a fear of heights. Also, I took a moment to find the beauty in a non-traditional birds eye view of the city.  As, I crawled out of the fire escape through the narrow window, I thought to myself, “wow what a beauty and unexpected memory.”

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