it does not happen in a particular area or neighborhood . it happens anywhere . it does not happen at a particular or special time of day . it just happens . it’s an equal opportunity surprising feeling ; and each and every time it happens , i find myself just as surprised as the last time , and the time before that , and the time before that .
they are not necessarily “revolutionary surprise moments” . most of the time they are mundane moments that strike me with the deep feeling and true realization that i live here in new york city . sometimes these moments are inspiring , but mostly they are just warm fuzzy feelings of my life here and what i have made of it .
for example , once while victor and i walked through central park , i noticed myself being in central park . it was as if i was watching it on television . there i am , walking in central park . it is as if this view of me – what i am watching – is filmed in technicolor or in high definition . the foliage is a green that is so lush and deep , and the morning dew glistens so bright you can almost hear it tinkling . the tall trees seem taller than i remember and their leaves move slightly in the breeze while they whisper their morning song . the gravel and dirt path crunches and crackles with every footstep .
at park benches , old men sit reading papers or women with strollers giggle and coo at their babies in upscale strollers . some drink their morning coffee and nosh on bagels . joggers whisk by , leaving quick notice of their huffing and puffing . bike riders whistle or shout “on your right !” to those on the closed off street while shifting gears .
we stop at a bridge to look over at a very shallow part of the lake . a rather large egret slowly makes his way from one side of the lake to the other . all the while , the big white bird looks suspicious of the couple who stops to watch his trek along with me ; all of us in complete silence . the graceful bird slowly lifts its leg out of the water , and gently steps forward causing barely a ripple . he stands motionless for a while and then takes his next , slow , methodical step .
when the bird makes it to the other side , it is as if the entire city exhales its held breath . the couple and i looked at each and exchange reactions . i say , “that was amazing ;” the man says , “just fantastic !” and we go our separate ways . as victor and i walk off the bridge , it hits me : i just stood on a bridge in central park and watched this gorgeous bird walk across this shallow water in central park . i live here . i live in new york city !
and i was surprised .
there was this time when i was in the large hall of grand central terminal waiting for two friends , patrick and kent . we are heading to their country house , that they have named white pond , for the weekend and victor is with me . after taking the pet taxi (a special taxi service) to grand central we are waiting “under the stars” of the cathedral-like ceiling . we watch the throng of people milling about , waiting for their train , waiting to meet someone , enjoying this amazing landmark . tourists walk past us ; they point and stare and some take pictures of us . it must be novel to see a man and his dog in the train station .
the woman standing next to me comments on how well behaved victor is and how nicely he just lays there and watches the commotion . i reply that he is a good dog and thank her for noticing .
at that moment , i realize that i am in grand central terminal , with my dog that i brought there by calling the pet taxi , waiting for friends so that we can take the train to their weekend house upstate . and it strikes me : oh my god i live in new york city . i live here . that’s amazing ! surprise !
i notice the cobblestones in the streets of soho and marvel at the amazing cast iron buildings . surprise ! i live here !
i walk down either madison avenue or fifth avenue and see the shops , the tourists , the women with diamond rings almost larger than their fists . surprise ! o-m-g ! i live here !
i sit on the grass and watch yachts and small sailboats bobbing in the hudson river . surprise ! i live here !
i turn a corner in the summertime and am struck by a scent that no one can actually describe … one that is completely and utterly repellent . surprise ! i live here .
i fight over the last wedge of gruyere cheese with some little old lady in zabar’s and realize that zabar’s is overrated , has no good produce , and is too crowded at all hours of the day , and decide never to go back . surprise ! i live here !
i ride the subway one morning and call out someone for being inconsiderate of the other riders by blocking access to standing room . surprise ! i live here !
i pass hasidic and orthodox jews , women in gloves , children and families , and nearly one hundred dogs and owners while walking home after having dinner at my newly-found favorite neighborhood restaurant . surprise ! i live here !
i enjoy a wonderful “victor greeting” as i enter my apartment , settle in with dinner and tv , read in bed before turning off the light , and then listen – in the dark – to the whir of traffic become hushed as nighttime takes control of the upper west side . surprise ! i live here .
i am not sure how long this surprising feeling will last , but i hope it never stops . i hope i will always appreciate the intricacies of living here . i hope i always know how to maintain a quick gait while navigating a sidewalk filled with people and not once bumping into any of them . i hope to continue to decide that catching a cab in the rain at 4:30pm is futile and i might as well walk , umbrella or not . i hope to continue to move towards the center of the subway car unless my stop is next .
i want to always have deep and private conversations within earshot of five strangers and not care if they overhear . i want to eat produce in season ; find peace , quiet , and serenity while the pulse and strain of the city drives towards insanity ; and walk down a street i have never been on before and find something completely special about it . i want to continue to rotate my wardrobe each season . each time i do any of these things , i hope that i have the same personal reaction .
surprise ! i live here !