To know a city like the back of your hand: each street as familiar as the steadily encroaching lines on your face, traffic noise as insistent as the onslaught of years, the incessant ebb and flow of the city crowds as comforting in its existence as it is frightening in its absence. A pulse outside your own, a breath enveloped in yours. Rhythms inherent in the seasons: summertime evacuation to the beach, wintertime escapes to the slopes, spring to the south to see cherry blossoms and autumn to the north for the changing leaves. The momentary hush that befalls a city caught naked on the heels of a newly fallen snow. The throbbing of clubs, the search for the ultimate high-low-new-old thrill, the all-too-bright, all-too-loud, all-too-muchness of it all. An in-your-face attitude touting cellulite-destroying, breast-enhancing, wrinkle-devouring, muscle-developing treatments/pathways/systems. All to be had at the drop of a large bundle of money. To live seduced by the sounds of a city’s pain, the sights of its triumphs, the song of its promise. To be part of the hottest new trends in this hottest of cities at this end-of-a-decade.

            Yet, to entertain the thought of leaving it because of its overwhelming-ness. To run to a desert, the eyes of a coyote staring you down on an impossibly-hot-early-summer morning. Or to another city, deceptive in calling itself a city because it turns out to be small and not-all-that. Or to the mountains, with its mute expanse of black star-crazy sky. To the silence of a wind howling outside a window. A bird’s call echoing the sound of wind chimes. Where one’s breath is measured against the ticking of a second-hand. Where a New York minute becomes an unnecessary hour.

            To reject the thought of escape, because, after all, there is nowhere like New York, where the sunrise is carelessly thrown above a still-slumbering city. Where you reach out your hand and never come up empty. Where the days are full of color and meaning, so life never becomes meaning-less. Where your heart is bursting and your soul filled with regrets. Where you tremble in anticipation of Armageddon. Where you don’t follow the north star but the smell of a good hot-dog vendor. 

            It’s all about beginnings and endings, except that you never know you were at the beginning until you’ve reached the end. 

            So you start over. You go to the square and look up at the sky to see a crystal ball descend from the heavens.

            Happy New Year, New York.

***

Ring in the New Year with a Champagne cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 to 3 dashes bitters
  • 1 ounce brandy
  • 4-6 ounces Champagne
  • Garnishes – orange slice, maraschino cherry

Place the sugar cube at the bottom of a Champagne flute. Pour bitters over the cube. Add the brandy. Fill the flute with Champagne; the sugar cube should dissolve. Garnish with the orange slice and maraschino cherry.

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