Thursday, October 11, 2012

The High Line

The sun blasts through the blinds, waking me early and calling me to play.  After four days of rain, my spirit is damp and I'm cranky, so the break in weather is a much welcome delight.

For the first time, I don my ipod and headphones, and I ride the train like so many New Yorkers do, ear buds, distractions out.  While I can see the appeal to shut out all the noise and chaos, I prefer to hear people talking, kids crying, trains whizzing by, the endless shuffle of feet.  

These are the sounds of the city, providing unlimited inspiration for writing and photography.  But I have to be unplugged to be inspired. 

The F train creaks and squeals down the tracks and I spill out in to the 14 St-6 Av station with so many others.  Today I'm set to explore Chelsea, with its many galleries and upscale shops.

My first stop is The Daily Affair, an independent coffee shop, kitty corner from a Starbucks and with a line out the door. Hot coffee in hand, I make my way north.

The main streets are busier than I had expected on this rainy morning, so I detour down an empty side street.  Tall trees line the sidewalks, offering shade and greenery, and brownstones, apartment buildings and churches line the block, row upon row.   

The homes here are large, much larger than my neighborhood.  The long, winding staircases to the front doors are ornate and clean.  The neighborhood is open and my feet are lighter just walking in it.  

My first celebrity spotting takes place here, but I don't realize it until the moment has passed, so immersed am I in photographing the colorful, red doors and brick walls of the St. Peters Episcopal Church.

As I wander across a street corner, I shift my gaze from the roof tops to the street sign and realize that I'm extremely close to a place I've been eager to visit - The High Line.

The High Line is a public park built on a freight rail line, a line from the 1920's.  Elevated above the street's of Manhattan, the park is a wonderful reprieve from the streets below, with plants, flowers and tall grasses to soothe the spirit. It also offers fantastic views of Manhattan's West Side, from the Hudson River to the nearby cathedrals, apartment buildings and businesses.

Running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues, the area is lush with greenery, original artwork and a parade of chairs and park benches upon which to rest.

In the summer, street vendors line up in rows, selling merchandise, souvenirs and food.  Today, on this unusually warm and rainfree autumn day, only two vendors are here, and both are selling icecream.  I love their tenacity in coming out on what may be the last warm day of autumn, and so I indulge in a sweet treat from both of them.

Hours later, having walked the entire length of The High Line and back, I wind my way down the metal staircase and find a young woman handing out small, blank pieces of red, pink and yellow paper.  She's collecting people's hopes.

"Write your hope down on here", she smiles, handing me paper and a felt marker, "and I'll take it home along with all the others and light a candle and burn them, sending everyone's hopes out in to the Universe".

And so, humbled by yet another day in New York City, another day overflowing with surprises, joy, kindness, beauty and warmth, I write.

As I board the train home, I'm giddy with happiness.  Hope can do that to you.



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