Sunday, November 08, 2009

Another Side of New York

I see skies of blue, and clouds of white,
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night.
And I think to myself... what a wonderful world.
From "What a Wonderful World", ©1968 Bob Thiele

--- the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs ---
from "God's Grandeur", Gerard Manley Hopkins

Manhattan Balcony, Fall 2009
I once went to see a gay English comic - who was incredibly beautiful in an androgynous sort of way - who joked about waiting at the airport carousel for one's luggage. "I imagine," he joked, looking sad and wistful, "that it's like parents feel when they wait for their kids to come out of the school grounds ... Is that mine? No. Oh here mine comes, oh goodie."

I thought of that comic today as I walked home from the gym; how it is difficult to imagine the experiences of people of another kind, of people who "have" something that you will never have.

When I leave the gym, I feel like what I think Catholics must feel like when they leave mass, or that Methodists must feel like when they leave Sunday morning services. Good, virtuous, a job well done ... N'est ce pas???


Flowers for Sale
Today was one of those perfect New York days. People were out and about doing New York things. And after blobbing about at home all Saturday I decided to do the right thing, and go to the gym.

On my short walk I thought of the image that many non-New Yorkers have of New York - as a harsh and soulless place - and I thought how different that is from the reality.

Let me retrace my steps. I walked out of the apartment building to the local fruit-barrow opposite. There I stopped to chat with the vendor and another customer about how best to eat pomegranates. Then east down 93nd Street to First Avenue.

Produce at a Farmers' Market
At First Avenue there's a New York Farmers' Market. Fresh fish, fruit and vegetables and "home-made" apple, cranberry and pumpkin pies are for sale. I decide to shop for my dinner ingredients there on my way back.

I cross First, making a short-cut through a huge apartment block owned by the New York Housing Authority. "Projects" - what we call "Housing Commission Flats" in Australia. There are children's playgrounds in between the project's buildings. The view from many of the apartment windows must be spectacular as the buildings are adjacent to the East River with the George Washington Bridge being visible to the north, the 59th Street Bridge to the south. The grounds are clean. Nothing is broken. No muggers lurking. Safe as houses!

Adjacent to the project are other, 'private' apartment blocks where the rent costs an arm and a leg, and selling prices for individual apartments are $1 million up.

Children at Play, Mad Hatter Statue, Central Park
Now I'm at York Avenue and I walk over the road to Asphalt Green, my gym.

Asphalt Green is not for profit and sits on 5.5 acres in the middle of Manhattan. It has an Olympic size swimming pool, the largest in Manhattan. I check in and plug my memory stick into a machine that tells me what my exercises are and details on my past performances. This is what I need as I'm competitive and require some structure to stay motivated.

After using the exercise equipment in my program I hop onto a treadmill.

And as I pace at a pathetic 4 m.p.h., I look straight ahead through the wall to ceiling windows, at the East River and two of New York's finest bridges. Postcard-perfect.

Then it's off to the women's shower room where all manner of products are available as part of the membership fee. I shower and dry and it is MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

I walk back home.

Feeling good.

Feeling virtuous.

1 comment:

Bill Critch said...

Tryin' agin'

Nice Sunday piece, Kate. Lots of colour in the story as well as the pix. Nothing like punishing the body at the gym. I can only manage 3 mph and 3 degrees up and I go for 45 minutes. Doc says it's better than swimming laps, but not as much fun. Swimming for me is almost a Zen thing. Gives me lots of zone out time as well as recalling pleasant times, not that these aren't! I no longer have any desire to travel the pacific which is my first love. Just read a little paul Theroux and my travels are all vicarious

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