Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Central Park in the Summer

Summer is always a busy time for me in New York City, and every chance I get to walk through Central Park on my way to a destination like a meeting, doctor's appointment, or visit to the French Consulate for yet another student visa, I take that opportunity, especially when it's sunny, as it was the other morning, when I passed so much going on in just one part of the Park (the area around the Zoo, the Children's Zoo and walking through the Poet's Walk up towards Bethesda Fountain).  The variety of sights and sounds in just a few minutes is always beautifully overwhelming to me (and causes me to write in really long, run-on sentences).

"rock climbing"


carriage rides for all ages

sun dappling on Poet's Walk

beach volleyball

Bethesda Fountain wrapped in summer green

Monday, August 27, 2012


After not even approaching this blog for almost three months, it feels like we're just being introduced again, the blog and I.  I'm a bit apprehensive and tentative.  But, like getting back on a bike after some time away, it'll feel like old times soon enough and I'll be back to writing about my daily impressions of what surrounds me.

But today I have to write about change. 

As a person who doesn't much like it, I manage to put myself through quite a bit of it (though, to be honest, don't we all?).  I returned to my home, New York City, in June.  Aside from short periods of a few weeks each to leave Paris and "visit" New York during the last 11 months, these three months home have provided me the chance to really take a look around, and also to persist in irritating friends and family with my "compare-and-contrast" of Paris and New York. 

The biggest thing I noticed this summer is CHANGE.  New York changes a lot.  Paris not so much.  

I've lived in New York for over 30 years, and this city is in a constant state of flux.  It makes the pulse and pace of this city very quick.  Restaurants come and go.  Trends in clothing, activities, music, architecture and especially neighborhoods "of the moment" fly past like a plastic bag caught in a breeze.  These things used to mean a great deal to me; I had to try all the new hot restaurants and see all the new shows.  Ah, youth (and a lawyer's income).  But, years pass.  The kids arrive and dinners start being at home (when they're not at work), and the trends pass you by.  And then -gulp- you leave town!  For months...

And then you come back.  And the buildings are different.  Old ones torn down, new ones up...or coming up.  Store fronts empty (what was there before?).  New stores open up.  Ditto with the restaurants, frozen yogurt shops, yoga clothing stores (how many of those do we really need?) and banks, banks, banks everywhere.  What is up with that?!

Things appear to stay the same in Paris.  Little things do change, and trendy quartiers are definitely now a real force in real estate there.  Is it the 3rd now, or the 11th, or maybe even the 19th?  But much stays the same.  The old architecture remains, thank goodness.  And most of my favorite Rive Gauche boutiques, cafés, boulangeries and patisseries are in the exact same locations they were in 20 or more years ago.  The ethnic food and bistronomie scene is definitely on the move, with little casual foodie places opening up all the time.  But, when you look into the distance, Paris is Paris.  It doesn't change.

Although I am not qualified to speak with certainty, I think Parisians like it that way.  On the other hand, I've heard young Parisians complain that Paris is boring and that New York has the excitement they dream of.  It's made me wonder if perhaps the pace and manageability of Paris are better suited to people of, um, un certain âge.  Like me, perhaps.

When I arrive in Paris, after no matter how much time away, it's the same.  It doesn't change.  

And with all the changes I'm facing in my life right now (which are not much different than the changes I've been dealing with for the last few years and that face all of us with kids moving out, moving back in, moving out, repeat), a little sameness suits me just fine.

Especially if that sameness comes with croissants!

Not that I wouldn't miss the charge - and even the changes - of New York.  But keeping up with them?  No longer remotely (literally and figuratively) possible.