I am in Manhattan today. I am here for a few days every month for business, but never get to see much more of the city than the inside of a conference room, a restaurant or few, and my hotel room. Until today. My 7pm client dinner got canceled so I had a few hours after work to enjoy the sights before sundown. A writer in New York…inspiration city, right?
My colleagues took me for a stroll on the High Line, a derelict railway turned linear park. One of my favorite weekend trips is biking the New River Trail in Galax, Virginia, so I was eager to experience New York’s version of a rail trail. While I saw more greenery in that one mile than I have ever seen in the city–which is to say a few trees and some shrubbery that will probably be beautiful come Spring–I was disappointed. The High Line should have a spectacular view of the Hudson River. And while occasionally I did see a glimpse of water, mostly I just got to see a lot of buildings from a slightly higher vantage point than sidewalk level. Unfortunately, one can only be impressed with buildings for so long…though this bubble-wrapped billboard was cool.
After a mile or so, our laptop bags felt so heavy we wondered if pickpockets had actually been stuffing things into them while we weren’t looking, so decided to head back to the hotel. On our way, we passed dozens of nail salons, restaurants of every conceivable genre, boutiques selling tacky clothing and imitation handbags, lots of garbage cans, and, interspersed between them, office buildings, high dollar flats and even slums. Fifteen blocks in all, and I couldn’t really tell one from another.
The only interesting piece of scenery on my walk through Chelsea to Rose Hill was in the backyard of one of the city’s famous brownstone’s–a pink bouncy castle that barely fit inside the yard’s wrought iron fences. Out front, facing the castle, sat a black-haired woman in a red, plastic lawn chair. I wondered for several blocks if the inflatable was rented for a party or if it was a permanent installation. If there were kids inside or if she just enjoyed looking at that pink vinyl castle over the miles of concrete beyond it.
By the time I made it back to the hotel, I felt about as inspired as if I had spent an hour sightseeing the world’s largest stripmall. On the final block, I passed a young couple loosely pulling a six or seven year old girl along behind them. They all looked exhausted. As I got within earshot, the girl gave a great, heaving sigh and proclaimed, “Oh, this is misery!”
LOL. My sentiments exactly.