The first and last months I had in New York City have been among the best in a year full of bests. I feel so lucky to have had this time.
My work this summer has been challenging and interesting, with enough good people around to spice up a social life otherwise diminished by absence. I had two major projects- both of which I had some experience with. It brought me back to those strengths and a new confidence. The strangest part for me was staying on longer than what I had originally intended. I am ready to start to live such that I don’t want to escape from it.
This was a most demanding year. I started working in April, so my last month of school was even more intense, if possible. I took a week off for exams, and once my papers were in I went back to work, trying to get as many hours as possible. My free time was caught up with reading for work- notably At Random, Eating, Playing the Past,With the Old Breed, and A Midwife’s Tale. I generally also spent two days a week at the NYPL in the archives, compiling the bones for my database of ethnic associations in the greater NYC area between 1960 and 1980. Excepting a visit from my mum, I continued doggedly on this course until the end of June. I packed up my little room on the upper west side and increased the frequency of my central park visits to Daily with the discovery of fireflies and the mandatory cooling properties of open space.
I wish I could go day by day through my incredible Midwestern road trip which followed, but a summary will have to suffice: in 11 days I visited 10 new states. I felt immediately at home in Montana. Wyoming blew me away. I don’t know what people are talking about because Nebraska and Kansas were not at all boring to drive across, and I vow to return to the Midwest. and Appalachia. oh and the South. Once again, thanks to the gospel of the Road Food book, I ate very well and very much.
So I was back in New York just in time for a celebratory roof deck party. It happily consisted of exactly that which you would expect. My first July 4th in the States in a long while. From one spot I could see fireworks on the Upper West Side, Staten Island, and also way off in Jersey at an angle such that they exactly illuminated the Statue of Liberty. Be still my heart.
Moving to Brooklyn in May probably made up for the fact that I stayed in a similar routine for so long. Exploring the wider city this summer has been unbelievable. Although, it was a long commute up to my university job! The campus is definitely well-used. And well-monetized. I cut back my hours a bit in order to research more. And it has been HOT and there has been a constant stream of visitors. I hosted eleven people during the year, and 5 of them came in my last three weeks. I did my best to show them the many joys of Brooklyn. And Manhattan, though the more tourists which appeared in Lower Manhattan the harder it was to be enthusiastic. Also, I really just enjoyed staying in my neighborhood of ‘Park South’ and other such odd pockets of the city. Like the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Now that was a highlight…