Recently I spent a few days in New York. I never understood the fascination with a city that is unbearably hot in the summer and bitingly cold in the winter. A city where more than 71,000 people live on one square mile. My husband says with a sparkle in his eye, “New York is the most energetic city in the world and the most vibrant. It never sleeps and there’s something for every culture.” Like most Europeans, he’s enamored with the Big Apple. Years ago, he spent many months there while shooting a movie called, Last Exit To Brooklyn. After a day’s shoot, he thoroughly explored the nightlife, including local hangouts. Thank goodness we weren’t married back then.
There’s a problem with his argument though. First of all, I get my energy from the sun. There’s nothing like running errands in beautiful weather. Second of all, we have a variety of cultures here in L.A. If you sit at Sunset Plaza long enough you’ll hear all kinds of languages. We have Little Tokyo, Little Armenia, Thai Town and Beverly Hills with a large Persian contingency. Chinatown N.Y is the size of a pinhead next to the number of Chinese, populating the San Gabriel valley, the largest community outside of China. Our Hispanic population is also diverse. We have people from pretty much all South American countries.
And then, I don’t like to walk. My replaced hips and knees aren’t made for walking. Well, actually they are, but I prefer to wear them out on a bike, and not waste their limited shelf life on walking.
I don’t like garbage bags lining streets, hallways, which double as apartments, basement bistros, roads in need of tarring, buildings screaming maintenance. I don’t care for droves of adults filling the sidewalks, heading to and fro like living dead on speed. And to top things off, I cringe at the thought of a N.Y. spin class.
I enjoy the comfort of my car to get around, rather than the comfort of my aerosol shoes. I love my sprawling house compared to the cubicles New Yorkers call home. Our West Coast gyms are state of the art and full of energy. Hail our spin classes! As far as culture is concerned, I admit, we’re a little mundane. We’re the capitol of the movie industry.
A friend once told me “All of Los Angeles is Disneyland.” By that I think he meant that living in L.A. is like a fantasy. We almost always have perfect weather. We dress casually. We “do” lunches. We eat healthy foods. We go to bed before midnight and get up early to go to the gym. Movies, and our basketball team are an essential part of our life, as is looking good and having white teeth. We’re laid back as opposed to New Yorkers. We say, “How’s it going,” to perfect strangers, and poo poo cigarettes as if they were…a drug.
“What about the arts?” My husband continued enthusiastically, “There’s nothing like Broadway, Moma, the Metropolitan, the Guggenheim; such rich and abundant cultural activities. Nowhere in the world can you find the best of the arts concentrated in one place like New York.” I had to agree with him on that point. One of the most romantic times we spent together was a Manhattan evening at Lincoln Center. During the intermission of Carmen, he and I walked to the upper level where the restaurant was. We sat at a table for two, next to an oversized window. Outside, blurry night-lights shimmered through the heavy, hushed rain that slid down the windowpane. My husband and I drank champagne and Perrier (yes, that would be me) and ate smoked salmon, while staring at the two magnificent, gigantic Chagall paintings at each end of the hall, towering over us in all their surrealistic, colorful and intricate splendor. That night, Manhattan was supreme.
It doesn’t rain much in L.A. I suppose it’s conceivable of having a drizzly evening at the Music Center, but somehow I don’t quite see the romance in that. How lovely it was to try Manhattan’s fine restaurants, right after seeing a Broadway show. As we strolled down the streets (at an L.A. pace), I expected Dustin Hoffman to cry out, “I’m walkin’ ere, I’m walkin’ ere!” (Midnight Cowboy).
Since my last visit a few days ago, I’ve revised my opinion of the city. On second thought, there are no words to describe Manhattan. It’s the city of all cities. Not only was the evening at Lincoln Center magical; all of Manhattan tingles romance. Slowly but surely, I’m falling in love with the island. I’m beginning to understand living in a closet, walking among zombies, having your clothes stick to you as soon as you step outdoors, all for the sake of romance. In fact, New York left as good a taste on my lips as the food in that corner basement bistro.