Memoirs of Manhattan


I spent my first few days in the city stressed out.  Potential city attractions rattled through my mental day-planner and, with a full-time teaching schedule at Moksha Yoga NYC eating up major chunks of the day, time was not something readily available to me.  Grandiose intentions of walking the High Line, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, plundering Black Friday sample sales, the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, strolls through Central Park, Chelsea Market, window shopping 5th Avenue, the MoMa, the Guggenheim, the Met….not to mention, the slew of old friends to reconnect with and a long list of epicurean eats to nibble my way through, and I was mentally exhausted before I even walked off the subway onto the crowded Manhattan streets.

How on Earth would I ever fit it all in and still teach from a grounded, centered place?  The city was out there twinkling, teasing and tantalizing all of its cosmopolitan delights just outside of the steamy studio windows, and I was trying to talk about staying present with breath and movement.  (Clearly speaking from experience)

It took me a few days to take a deep breath and let go.  For I was here to teach, not to be a tourist.  Once I recognized that fact, I realized that this trip was more of an opportunity to get a cross-section of life as a New Yorker.

And so I surrendered to the simplicity of my life in the city:  people watching from a coffee shop window as they bustled about their busy, uber-urban lives; taking different routes to and from the studio in order get a broader view of the landscape, architecture and lifestyles (sure don’t make ‘em like they used to); ogling the plethora of beautiful, well-dressed people as they strutted to their casting calls and auditions, walking for walking’s sake and soaking in the soaring skylines that engulfed even the sun.

I inhaled deep the scents of smoking street meat as shaved chicken, lamb or beef was piled high over doughy pieces of pita; the sweet and dirty sock-like steam coming from the pretzel and hot-dog stands, or the caramel crunch of roasted street nuts—all of which always smell better than they taste.

I felt like Warrior I, II, and III for successfully navigating the subway to and from Brooklyn, Red Hook, the airport, Harlem, Manhattan and once, by accident, took a wrong turn on the F-train to Queens.

I ate at some ridiculously delicious restaurants, and, as someone with a gluten intolerance, assumed the consequences in order to pit the New York bagel against the Montreal one.  (Jury’s still out on that one, folks.  New York makes a damn fine bagel.)  I had a slice of pizza straight off the streets of Brooklyn and with its crust so delicately thin and crispy and cheese so satisfyingly greasy, I smacked my smeary lips with each hot, gooey bite.

I revelled in the comfort of a home-cooked meal, which I enjoyed in my borrowed, stunning East Village apartment, sitting in the living room with a bowl of pasta (gluten-free) and a glass of white wine, with the Empire State Building glowing just outside my window.

And I taught New Yorkers yoga.  I asked them about their lives as models, actresses, financial analysts, news reporters, stylists, photographers, bartenders, dancers, designers, mothers, students, artists and, let me tell you….New Yorkers are amongst the friendliest people I’ve met.  Pull out a map in NYC and inevitably someone will ask you where you need to go.  It seems, to call oneself a true New Yorker, there is a gauntlet you must run.  A right of passage that entails a daily grind; a thickening of skin.  And everyone wants to share their story.

So now I leave this city, Montreal-bound.  Not exhausted, but rather invigorated; infused with the infectious energy of a city so full of exuberance.  Knowing now that the only way to consume the Big Apple is one, tiny bite at a time.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mélanie
    Dec 01, 2012 @ 19:15:26

    NYC for me after reading this piece: a giant sea of human energy that facilitate recovery. Rather then a hole forever filled with stressful trauma. Thanks Jen!


  2. risingontheroad
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 16:17:28

    Ah I have missed your writing as much as I miss travel!


  3. risingontheroad
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 08:04:21

    I am back home in the Uk rather wondering if I have taken a wrong turn somewhere!


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