One of the things I love most about travel is the experience of creating and nurturing relationships with different places around the world. Whether I have visited a country or city once or many times, when I think of each place I have been to I see a different type of relationship...a unique connection that is only possible between myself and that particular place. My relationship with Washington, DC - where I grew up - is entirely different from Havana, Cuba - where I've been only once. One has the deep roots of home and family, thereby filling me with a sense of commitment and personal history; the other still makes my heart skip a beat, like a lover with whom I had a mad, passionate affair and I may perhaps never see again. In certain ways it will always be perfect, and always hold the promise of sailing off into the sunset to live happily ever after, despite the fact that it is terribly imperfect and melancholy in many ways.
My relationship with New York City is like a friendship I might share with someone I admire tremendously for her strength, determination, ferocity and vision. If I had ever been able to meet Ayn Rand, I think I might experience similar feelings for her as I do NYC. I love NYC for its height, for its throngs of people and human traffic jams on Fifth Avenue, for lines out the door of FAO Schwarz this time of year, for all the honking horns and for all the various accents, languages and voices one hears on any given day in any part of the city. I love NYC police officers, I love my favorite Greek restaurant in Hell's Kitchen, I love that riding the subway somehow makes me feel brave (how naive and silly the natives must think of this!) I love the brown and white striped shopping bags from Henri Bendel and I love the fact that I can see a couple dancing tango on a Sunday afternoon in Central Park. NYC has scars and wounds and has fought back every time. When I see the gaping hole where the World Trade Center once stood from Ground Zero as well as from my plane heading back to LA, I stand in awe of all the trauma, terror and heartache NYC has withstood yet it is still moving along as powerfully as ever. I love that people from all over the world continue to go there to ice skate at Rockefeller Center and eat with the locals in Little Italy despite the fact that NYC is very likely a terrorist's top target.
I will always need to go to NYC every now and then to fill a unique well in my heart that exists solely for NYC. I need to go there and walk the streets, wander, watch the people, browse all the baubles in the windows of Tiffany's and Harry Winston and fall asleep to the steady hum of garbage trucks and taxi cabs. It is intense, exhausting and sometimes even incredibly frustrating, but I cannot help loving it, cannot help but raise my glass to it and celebrate its stubborn insistence on not letting anyone or anything stand in its way from being its bad ass self.