A Tourist in My Own Town

Central Perky

One of the many, many things I love about NYC is that when one neighborhood proves wearying (Williamsburg houses far too many of my exes), you can dip into a whole new world just by traveling a few miles. This holiday season I have been a tourist in my own city and have found real December magic, even when the adventures have left something to be desired.

Last Sunday I traveled to an unusually demure Midtown to ogle the big-hearted precision of the Alvin Ailey dancers at the New York City Center.

Yolanda and the Thief

I bought my tickets on the rush line, and everyone around me was drunk, sniffly, an entitled out-of-towner (no New Yorker is as rude as our visitors can be), but the work itself cut through the malaise of, well, other humans. I felt inspired to get back to rec-room dancing classes with the new year. (More on that in another post.)

On Christmas Day, though I felt too alone, I hoofed it around Prospect Park, digging on the promenade of Brooklyn’s finest (not cops, no).

And this weekend, on the Lower East Side’s Metrograph, I saw Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer swoon a soft-shoe in Yolanda and the Thief, the most surrealist of all Vincent Minnelli’s films and, alas, one of MGM’s least-baked mistakes. Mostly what I loved was surrendering to its bold pastels while sipping a mimosa smuggled in my purse. That, and giggling over how much Astaire obviously hated this cinematic equivalent of lysurgic acid; he looked like he’d swallowed a lemon.

Don Freeman’s rough “Corduroy”

Today I swung to the Upper Upper East Side—big quiet Central Park–nature, real nature!–and big quiet Museum of the City of New York, awash in civic-minded children’s illustrations and rainbow rebellions. That experience was truly great, especially the depictions of New York’s 19th century lady outliers. Every women in attendance smiled broadly at each other; even Stanley Kubrick midcentury photos read as renegade in that context.

I felt so glad I didn’t mind when one of the

a 1947 Stanley Kubrick photo!

Yorkville Housing Works balabustas called me zaftig. For one thing, she wasn’t wrong. Though my affair with the Legend shed most of what K calls Obama weight (the extra poundage of complacency), I always will carry more weight than when I was young, anorectic being a bad look in middle age (any age, really). At the precipice of 48, I’m impervious to fat-shaming, anyway.

It helped that the broad in question was lending me her 40 percent discount to help purchase a gorgeous new fur, and that I was pretty

zaftig in fur

sure I’d manifested the whole experience by envying

MTM wore it best.

Mary Tyler Moore’s similar coat just before leaving my house. Really, I’m just happy our city still hosts unabashed Yiddish speakers.

Even now, NYC shores so many souls who aren’t embraced anywhere else. I could never love another island as much as I love brainy, bratty, beautiful New York.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy