Last week, an Onion article called “8.4 Million New Yorkers Suddenly Realize New York City A Horrible Place To Live” was all the rage on the Web, passed around on Facebook and Twitter like used AM NYs on a subway seat. Some used it to hate on New York; expats used it to defend their choice to flee. Proud New Yorkers enjoyed the piece ironically, wearing it (like everything else) as a kind of badge of honor.
Also last week, Jan Benzel published, in the Times, an unintentional companion piece of sorts. “Once Around the Park, Then Farewell” was an ode to thirty years of city favorites, culled mostly from the Upper West Side. The piece also paid tribute to the Highline, and a nod to “the lovely garden of the General Theological Seminary”.
On our way to a gallery in Chelsea last night, my girlfriend and I walked by that garden (on the 20th Street side) for the first time, almost poking our heads through the black-iron fence with jealous wonder. We drank free PBR, saw tree sculptures made from broken bottles, saw a real tree growing in the narrowest space between two buildings, and overheard that we’d missed Jerry and Roberta.
We left and climbed the Eiffel-esque stairs to the High Line, where we shivered in the encroaching-autumn breezes and marveled at modern architecture through wafting native-grasses. We had wine and vegan baguettes at a cutely cramped bistro; we went to a gay bar, my first, where I was accepted despite my heterosexuality. A drunk rehearsal-space manager told us he had semi-inside information that Catherine Zeta Jones was drunk at the Tonys. The F train took us home.
This morning I listened to “Autumn in New York” while I made oatmeal and nearly cried. Like anything else, New York is what you make of it. And I love New York because I make it beautiful.