I had this thought while at Newark International Airport with nothing much to do for an hour and ten minutes while I waited to board a plane to Heathrow. I had spent the last 48 hours in New York and I was sat at Newark asking myself: why do I love New York so much? What is it about the city that draws me in? Why do I want to return there after only 12 months since the last visit? This is a thought that is made more curious to me because I know people who have been to New York and have professed that they were disappointed by the experience and even concluded that they disliked, and even hated, New York. I don’t understand that because after two visits, for 48-hours each, I love the place. I’d live there if I could. What is there not to love?
So I decided to kill my time at Newark International Airport by writing a list of reasons why I love New York. This is my list:
I love the smell. I wish I could bottle the smell. Times Square, where our hotel was, has a distinctive smell. This is a smell that I cannot preserve and return to at will. I wish I could. Someone needs to invent a technology that allows us to capture a smell and ‘share’ on Facebook or just keep for future reference. The sense of smell is a very important provoker of memory (just ask Marcel Proust).
Times Square smells of diesel, pretzels cooking, nuts roasting, rotting rubbish, steam and frying food. I love it. When we first arrived at our hotel, I opened the window, eleven floors up, and the smell hit me like a wave of city life. Chinatown smells of noodles and soya. The Lower East Side smells of coffee. Central Park smells of trees, fresh air and summer. The subway smells of engines and sweat.
I love the people. They are interesting. I just wish I could spend more time with them. I would love to stop and talk to them and find out more about their lives. They come from all sorts of walks of life. Some appear beaten by life and others bolstered by it. The cultural diversity of New York is refreshing. Everyone moves with a purpose. They rush but not through stress. They drink coffee on the go. They listen to music on their iPhones on the go. They cross the roads while screaming down their iPhones ‘I know, that’s outrageous’.
New York is the most cultured city I have been to. It is full of art and artists. I am with the like-minded there. I love the streets, the coffee shops, the art galleries as well as the inspiration of art (the people).
The feeling of youth
New York is a youthful city. Everyone is young (at heart if not of body). The youthfulness of the city is infectious.
New Yorkers are optimists. They see possibility everywhere. They look on the bright side of life. They smile at strangers. They are happy all the time.
I haven’t had much time to peruse the bookshops of New York but I know that the bookshops are there, waiting for me. I only managed to browse books in the art galleries, the tenement museum in the Lower East Side and Barnes & Nobel but that was enough to whet my appetite for great books.
The people-watching opportunities
I love to people watch. What better city to do that in than New York? New York obviously knows that it is the perfect city for people watching. Many of its cafes and fast-food establishments are set out in the style which I call ‘last supper style’. This means that they have a big window and a bar with high stools along the window facing out. In other words, you can sit and enjoy your coffee and watch the world go by. To passers by, the people sitting along this bar resembled that very famous painting of the Last Supper.
You can go there for a weekend
I know it seems mad to go to New York for the weekend but it is possible. I’ve done it twice now. So my advice is: go to New York for the weekend and see if you love it as much as I do. I hope you do.