What I'm thinking about now is the wonderfulness that was The City.
Yes, THE CITY. People in Marin or on the North Shore or The Main Line might talk about going into The City, but I'm sorry...... neither San Francisco nor Chicago nor Philly hold a candle to the Big Apple.
Don't get me wrong - I think Chicago is the best city in America today. For livability, culture, outdoor recreation, free events, civic pride..... it's hard to argue the point. San Francisco has a vibe unlike anyplace else and its residents love it and cannot imagine living elsewhere (as the Big Cuter says, "It's insane.... but it's mine") But they're still not New York. No place but Manhattan has that melting pot vibrancy, that bond forged by the shared adversity of living in the concrete jungle.
and San Francisco
mediate the harshness of their hardscapes* by embracing their waterfronts.
I really tried to take a picture of the water from South Street Seaport, but there wasn't an attractive angle. We'd walked there as a destination to remind ourselves that we were on an island, and we'd failed. (I might have had better luck at Battery Park, but it was drizzling and we had dinner plans the day we were headed there so we turned around in the West Village after I ate an expensive and decidedly average cupcake because it was trendy. And because I was in New York and it was a New York thing and that meant something to me.) Anyway......
New York City is comfortable ignoring the waterways that made it what it is today because it doesn't need them to be special. It's not that kind of place. The concrete. The skyscrapers blocking the sun. Traveling underground. This city embraces its solid foundation and keeps the embellishments to a minimum. Sure, Madison Square is an oasis in the urban center, but there's not a lot of greenery there. The trees that line the sidewalks are triumphs of hope and resilience and seem to mock the cigarette butts and iron grates that protect their roots from utter destruction. You have to be tough to live there.
Yet Rhona's face when she said "Yes!" to "You live here, though?" was nearly beatific. I'm serious. The woman is in love with Manhattan. She's not a braggy kinda gal but you could tell that this was something of which she was proud. We talked about reading the canon of Western literature (yes, dead white men for the most part) and not about living in the city, but she was clearly out to dinner with friends while the rest of us were still seriously on vacation. And we were all at the same party.
I have lots more to say about New York, but this is a nice way to end the Reunion stories. The whole thing was so much more than the sum of its parts --- I never understood what that phrase meant quite as fully as I did that weekend. MTF and I, the Park South Breakfast Club, the crowd in Apartment 15F, warm longstanding relationships and friendships sprung from acquaintanceships, not-so-scary Scary Girls and the boy you knew had always hated you giving you a big hug and denying the whole thing. And you let him. Because there was re-uning going on. And it felt great.
*hardscape is a real term - think the opposite of landscape..... anything inanimate in your yard is the hardscape. Does this nomenclature enable you to gaze upon your retaining walls and driveways with new regard? One can only hope.......