When an opportunity presents, take it – and that is how I found myself on a five day excursion to New York City and Somerville, Mass. this past week. Although my fare consisted of having to attend a two day legal seminar, I got to catch up with old friends and visit daughter A and the boyfriend N and enjoy perfect spring weather in Boston.
Before I return to the theme of “all roads lead to” (see All Roads Lead to Fludir – adventures in Iceland), I must spend a few minutes mentioning the mountains of Manhattan. They aren’t products of geology – the City is remarkably flat – but they certainly are metaphorical. Everywhere you turn people are striving toward their own personal summits, whether professional or artistic or simply individualistic. And against a backdrop of skyscrapers looming over city canyons like sharp mountain peaks over a valley. It can all be a bit exhausting.
I last lived in NYC from 1986 to 1989 and each time I visit I still experience the disconnect between the city then and the city now. This time it was men wearing suits with open collared shirts. People scurrying down the sidewalk, cigarettes in hand – probably a side effect of the fact smoking is permitted practically nowhere. The Freedom Tower, gleaming over the city in the spot I still expect to see the Twin Towers. And some remarkably ugly multi story apartment buildings poking up out of midtown – that my college roommate, a long term resident of the area near the United Nations, described as a giant middle finger to the City. And I am convinced there were not as many Duane Reades back then – there now seems to be one on every corner – and they sell food and beer.
On Friday I caught the Acela Express, having arrived at Penn Station way earlier than necessary, and spent a very comfortable 3 hours traveling to Boston’s South Station. It was a great way to travel – free wifi and had the woman next to me not been so determined to close the curtain, a beautiful view for much of the way.
Boston was spectacular. I managed to run 4 miles Saturday morning, The trees were in full blossom, white and pink bridal bouquets cascading to the ground, silhouetted by the very pale green of new leaves of other trees playing attendants to their more glamorous sisters. I got to stay on the very comfortable futon of the 20 somethings’ level of a Somerville triple decker. One of our projects was buying planters and flowers and herbs to turn their back porch into something worthy of daughter A’s Florida heritage. And a shout out to the housemates for creating such a nice living space.
Boston – or Somerville – highlights included multiple trips to the Market Basket – the iconic Somerville family owned and inexpensive grocery store with a very convenient parking lot. Open Studios Somerville was also fun – over 400 artists open their homes and studios to the general public – especially the house of the older couple filled with dioramas (in case you didn’t know what to do with any small scale model of anything that you ever saw), the quilling artist (a way to use every scrap of colored paper you wish you’d never thrown away and clearly to become daughter A’s new hobby), and interesting paintings of the backs of industrial buildings in Somerville. The day was topped off by a vegetarian Indian meal at Dosa ‘n Curry (dosa the size of the table) and listening to Mike Stern, former guitarist for the unlikely combination of Miles Davis and Blood, Sweat and Tears, at the Regatta Bar.
Plus, I got upgraded on the flight back to Florida. Some summits are hard – but some are pretty easy. Have a good week.