In New York

March 19, 2012

It’s taken years but I finally found a business reason to come back to New York. We used to have a distributor in the City to sell Steven Kent wines, but that relationship dried out years ago, and with so much area to cover closer to home, it made more sense focusing on California.

Thing is…I LOVE New York.

Christopher St. Station - NYU

I was 23 when I went out East a second time to study at NYU. I had been in DC for four years as an undergrad and came back home for a year. I was going to get my PhD, teach literature, and write the great novel. And New York was THE place to do that. So many great writers, so much energy…the streets beating with it.

I lived in a shithole of an apartment, but it was in the Village. I worked as a bellhop on the graveyard shift and went to school at night. The days I spent wandering the City and writing (to no real effect…yet). There was a magic to it all.

I haven’t been in 10 years, but coming through the Lincoln Tunnel into the Times Square area, it all comes back…the rush, the people, the horns and messengers on bikes, the smells of world cuisine and pretzels (that always remind me of Shea Stadium), the building-shadowed streets.

Almost too big to get my arms around, this feeling of deja vu. No, that’s not really it. The sense of wonder at having the years come off like an old skin, and to be bright and beautiful and young again. People who live in New York may say they hate it, but they love it if only for getting through it; those who don’t live there but come there romanticize it out of proportion…except that there is no limit to the romance the city takes and gives.

I got into my hotel around 7 and took the 1 line downtown to the Village and walked around the old neighborhood. A lot of the old places were still there, but there is more uptown to it now. It was 25 years ago that I lived there, before Guiliani, when the City had a gritty charm to it that is gone mostly, buffed up. There was a baby clothes store where my deli was (Enteman’s pound cake and Hagen Daz); the court at 6th Ave and 11th St was still there and the guys conning chess in Washington Square Park. The lights were shining on the Arch and a crowd gathered there underneath. The night is cool and carries a piano on it. Under the Arch a guy has rolled out a grand piano and is sitting on a plastic bucket with a scarf around his neck playing Chopin and Rachmaninoff, and he is wreathed in the spotlights shining down and the notes bat up like birds against the marble and swell and echo and the crowd throws change into another bucket and he finishes and they applaud and he rolls his piano away and all that’s left are the shadows. That’s a New York moment.