O great mystery that crowded, dirty and expensive Manhattan can feel at W. 89th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue at 7:30 a.m. on a weekday summer morning so new and full of promise. All those endless leafy blocks of brownstones leading to Central Park. The park itself a green rectangle battened down and secured in place at its edges by high rises with terraces and roofs copied from French chateaus or Greek temples or Egyptian monuments or Spanish cathedrals or Roman forums. Or roofs of simple solid geometry.
I know I'm shamelessly romanticizing the place in my elitist way (easy to do as we never make it to any poorer neighborhoods), idly purchasing suspenders on the snootier end of Bleecker Street or strange white Japanese robot monkey things in Soho, or drinking tequila cocktails and talking a mile a minute with the divine Lisa Lucas in the East Village, or snarfing down delicious Chinese steamed buns filled with fatty caramelized pork at a jammed Momofuku (not to mention the short-cake-flavored ice cream) on a Tuesday night or wandering breezily around the Cloisters with my dear sister and sister-in-law and niece and nephew while the husband with his Spanish blood notes: "Every other thing was stolen from Spain it looks like!"
But really, living in New York is tight both in space and money, and in truth, full of the same drudgery as living anywhere else.
So why does it seem so exciting, so much better than anywhere else?
O great mystery that returning back from New York I somehow love Stockholm even more than when I left. Our apartment! So airy and grand and white and full of light as I sit reading on a sofa at 3:30 a.m. on account of the jetlag, the sun fully up and flooding the apartment. The streets! So rooted and charming on a human scale, never far from a glimpse of the water. The ethos! Circumspect rather than brazen with everything hanging out and in your face, elbows and tongues well-sharpened.
Still. What I wouldn't give to have both New York and Stockholm.
The Swedish phrase for the day is välkommen åter. It means, more or less, come back soon.