We spent the weekend in Manhattan, visiting Alex, Rachel and Liam. It was a truly lovely - if brief - time away. We made it down there in four hours and twenty minutes, and that included two stops. I never would have believed it possible until I started making the trek through Scranton. As long as there is no George Washington Bridge or FDR tie-up we can do it. We also found a parking spot just a few doors from their building.
I have come to really love the City. I love the energy, the way it really doesn't seem to sleep, the safety of it. I can walk and walk, we are close to parks on either side, there are dogs and kids galore to watch. We ventured out with Liam, now six months old, to a sit-down restaurant, stroller and all. Candlelight, great Vietnamese food, good wine and beer, close to their building....and there were two other little kids at the next table. It was all fine and the wait staff accommodated everyone.
I looked at the City slightly differently this time. I've been reading Time and Again, by Jack Finney, for the second time. I read it years earlier when I was in Seattle, and remembered it fondly. When it was reissued this past year I bought it and also gave a copy of it to Alex and Rachel. Not to give too much away, it is a story that features the NYC of 1882, at the end of January that year.
The details are simply delicious, things I had not known or thought about. There's a scene in which it has snowed a great deal, and everyone has taken the opportunity to bring out their horse-drawn sleighs. Finney evokes this beautifully - the sounds and sights of all those horses and bells in the night air. The protagonist stays at The Dakota, famous in part now due to John Lennon, but when this was published in 1970 it was a star among the Manhattan buildings in its own right. Across the street in Central Park, in 1882, were farms! (For a great photo of it, and a description, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dakota)
There was no snow this weekend, and I didn't make it down to The Dakota as I will some day. The wind blew off the East River and froze us, but the parks were filled with kids on a Saturday afternoon in the sun. So different from Finney's descriptions - but still the same fascinating city.