We stand motionless in the middle of Central Park
grinning like fools at each other, at the place,
hardly daring to believe we are where we are
There is an energy in New York City that is like no
other and as we sink onto a park bench, we try
decide just what it is...
Off in the distance, the ubiquitous horn-honking
of mostly yellow cabs goes on pretty much non-stop
--its counter-point in the park, the clip-clop of
horses hooves as carriages pass by one after the
other, ferrying visitors on tours of the park
A pair of pigeons coo above on one of the old-growth
trees near us; they are silhouetted against a sky
fading to scarlet as the day dies
This is the city that never sleeps, a reputation
well-deserved, we agree, as our hotel is just off the
famous, and never quiet, Times Square
We wonder if it's just the time of year— the week before
Christmas— there are people crowding the square
at all hours
And we are both struck by the hub-bub that masses of
people make but how surprisingly orderly it all seems
There's a police presence at almost all intersections so
the trill of a whistle is heard there
We've learned quickly to recognize the different emphasis
on the whistles and what they mean
Short soft tweets are just ordinary "keep it moving" noises
But if you hear a loud sustained blast, you better clear
the road, whether you're a person or a vehicle
All these people pressed together and rarely any shouting;
that's been a surprise
And even with street vendors on almost every corner and
some even mid-way down the streets
No hawking of wares...another surprise
Not what we were expecting
However, dinner at the Algonquin, the place where so many famous
writers used to congregate?
Pretty much just what I expected...the elegance was understated;
the china, crystal and silverware gleamed genuine and antique,
And all I heard throughout the meal was the gentle clinking of silver on
china, the occasional musical joining of crystal wine glasses raised in toasts,
the murmur of conversations, some polite laughter
I imagined seeing Dorothy Parker come through the door at any minute, hearing
her wicked laugh disturb the status quo...
In our quest to discover NYC's energy source, we visited the world famous
Birdland, curious to see what jazz would sound like there
Another surprise as that night, Michael Feinstein sang from the American
Songbook—old standards and some Broadway hits—tunes that caressed
our souls; it wasn't quite the jazz I was anticipating but it mattered not
We also lucked out and saw "Tosca" at the Met...in the balcony closest to heaven,
in that space, the energy fairly vibrated there, the place where so many "firsts"
have taken place - Pavorotti, Price, Fleming - to name a few
We were struck by the lights at the Met; all of them are replicas of their main chandelier, an ultra-modern stylized snow-flake; when the "lights go up" - the ones in the main auditorium
actually rise into the ceiling...an added bit of magic
Of course the sound at the Met was nothing short of extraordinary...angel voices that
reverberated inside our heads, long after we left there
A highlight for me after the show was hailing a cab, dressed to the nines...another ubiquitous
NYC sound, "Taxi!"
It's exhilarating to raise your hand, give a shout, and stop a car...
No matter where we toured nor what we saw, the city seemed to fairly thrum
with an undercurrent of energy that was hard to define but like nowhere else we'd ever been.
Our last stop before returning home was the New York Public Library,
a building as architecturally beautiful as any we've seen in Europe, with its
stately Corinthian columns and magnificent paired lions, Patience and Fortitude, guarding
its entrance...its interior is decorated more like a cathedral than a library, vaulted ceilings with oil paintings directly on walls and ceilings...
And even though the city's energy is still felt in this building, the most remarkable thing
we noticed was the absence of sound, the quietude in this seven story repository is conspicuous,
and the space resonates with silence.
It was a fitting end to our unanswered quest.