23 August 2015
The morning started in discord. Feeling burnt out and on different pages, my brother and I brooded in heavy silence as we stiffly moved around our small Brooklyn flat tersely talking about our plans for the day. Unable to come to a conclusive agreement, we made it as far as we would (1) walk to the Book of Mormon to (2) enter our names into the ticket lottery and (3) decide what we’d do for the rest of the day based off of those results.
First of all, let me explain a ticket lottery to you all. It is an amazing thing. Two and a half hours before a performance on Broadway, you go to the theatre, write your name on a slip of paper and hope to be picked to win some super discounted tickets.
With the knowledge that we would probably not get the lottery, I wondered how I’d spend a day alone in New York when Ben and I inevitably broke apart later. The idea of wandering around Central Park appealed to me greatly and I soon became set on the thought of walking in the installed greenery, cappuccino in hand and my eyes full of city sights.
Ben and I hurried over the Queensboro Bridge and made our way to forty-ninth and eighth to enter our names and cross our fingers. As Ben waited in line, I waited in front of the woman with a megaphone yelling reminders to the crowd: FIFTEEN MINUTES LEFT! TEN MINUTES LEFT! Until eventually: TIME’S UP, WE’RE PICKING THE LOTTERY! I held my license in one hand and my phone in the other, waiting to call Ben in case his name was yelled – you had to claim the tickets immediately or risk forfeiting them.
The first name was called: SOMEBODY FROM WASHINGTON… And when the woman didn’t immediately step forward to claim the tickets and the megaphone yeller almost gave them away, I hurriedly texted Ben: Get up here. This seems immediate. As soon and I finished texting Ben that, I heard a sterile call: BEN Z. FROM WASHINGTON! I whooped and then looked around for my brother, already running up to claim our two tickets.
We celebrated our thirty-dollar front row tickets with a brunch down the street and a renewed excitement and energy. We no longer felt the tense separation that we had this morning, now we’d won something, we had something to do that we agreed on. This was big.
We went to the hilarious show and laughed, clapped, gave a standing ovation, laughed some more and left the theatre singing the final bit and joking with each other about the play. From there, we went to go meet up with a woman on our trip to Israel who needed a place to stay for the night. We then headed out for a dinner and night walking around Soho, looking for bars (unsuccessfully) for three hours before retreating to our digs in Williamsburg and finding a bar that screens films nonstop all night. Talk about hipster.
We talked about our anticipation for the trip, we speculated about what it’d be like, what kind of people we were likely to meet tomorrow, how we’d spend our time, how much time we’d have to ourselves to spend.
As the night wound down in Brooklyn, we began our walk back to our apartment, stealing glances at the low hanging orange moon and longingly looking at the famed New York skyline. I thought about my time here. Did I like New York? I still can’t come to a conclusive decision. While the buildings charmed and the speed was frantically busy and trees peeked out behind concrete buildings like toddlers playing peek-a-boo, there was a certain… gracelessness about the city that kept me from giving in to these small allures.
Graceless in that the buildings and the bridges are unapologetically and frankly there. They stand – made up of concrete and steel – with no attempt to hide their brash marks upon the city. While European buildings stand tall with curly décor and pretty facades, these ones are unabashed and uncovered: brash, bold, blunt. Perhaps there is something to be admired in these stark displays of architecture. Already, I’m falling prey to the unguarded romanticism that the description elicits. It might say to the world: I don’t care how I look. I’m a f*cking bridge. It might be an American middle finger to its better-groomed European cousins. It might just be an architect’s aesthetic.
Even now, after three days of conflicted thoughts on this magnificent city, I still find myself straddling the fence. I don’t know how to be more decisive on the issue – it should be so simple!
Perhaps I should take a lesson or two from these New York bridges.