Bright Lights, Big City

Finding yourself in the concrete jungle

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photovs / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus

New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline



From this vantage point Manhattan was simply so improbable, so wonderful, so obviously full of promise — that you wanted to approach it for the rest of your life without ever quite arriving.” — “The Rules of Civility,” Amor Towles 

We accelerate, braking and weaving at alarming speeds. A fellow Yellow Cab lays relentlessly on his horn and zigs to our zag. Just as my boyfriend begins to look like he’s second-guessing the decision he made to join me on this trip, I am saved by our first glance at the Manhattan skyline. My breath catches a bit in that way it does when you’re reunited with someone you once cared about, but didn’t expect to see. My senses are immersed, enlivened, heightened. I am reminded why I wanted to spend my 25th birthday in this city. 

It was not my first time in New York City, and it certainly won’t be my last. It’s the city that never sleeps, never runs out of activities and always changes, yet never does. Once you arrive, the transportation is readily available. There is no wondering where to dine, as the options are limitless. Nightlife is at all hours, and you could watch a different show each day of the year. 

There are some destinations where I would advise splurging on a resort — usually those filled with sunscreen-scented days and cabana service — but New York City is not that place. Our humble abode for four nights was in the heart of Korea Town, specifically because a block behind it stands the Empire State Building. There are advantages to this: The rooftop bar allows ample space to walk and gawk, and it’s easy to find your hotel when it’s housed right in front of one of the city’s most visible landmarks. 

This city will cause you to experience many emotions and feelings, but boredom is not one of them. With colored lights that glow during the day and grow brighter by night, pedestrians brushing past on streets, cramped subways honks of cabbies and howls of police sirens, a sensory kaleidoscope is created. 

New York City demands your attention. 

Arts and Crafts

You will never see this city in its entirety, unless you’re a resident — and even then, it’s unlikely. What makes it the city most photographed, filmed and even talked about is the fact that it’s constantly progressing, developing and evolving. The history buff, art critic, sports fanatic, nature lover, bookworm and avid shopper can all be appeased here. 

As a musician and a writer, my boyfriend and I are drawn to art. (It works nicely to travel with someone who shares your interests.) The Morgan Library and Museum houses shelf upon decadent shelf of my favorite form of art: books. If you find that you are happiest with a book in hand, then the massive fireplace, ornate oriental rugs, intricate ceiling paintings, stained glass windows and tomes of all shapes, sizes, colors and genres will make you want to take up residence in Mr. Morgan’s collection. From Chaucer to Whitman, the writers I studied so comprehensively in college were all there. I spent a considerable amount of time inspecting spines and attempting to memorize the smell of the space: paper and leather. I found my boyfriend buried in sheet music, nodding his head along to the classical music he listened to through museum-supplied headphones. 

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