New York: It’s Always the First Time


It doesn’t get old.IMG_2099

New York City.  My heart still flutters when my eyes are blasted with the glory of the Empire State Building. There it is, slim and sharp against the brilliant background of a  New York September day. Yes, people, the New York sky can be as deep blue as the one of Southern
Italy in early summer. The sun reflects off the classic beauty of the Chrysler Building, and shatters your soul with the agonizing majesty of Freedom Tower.

I’m in New York, get it? New York, my dream city, the one I glimpsed from my balcony in Portici, even though I didn’t. Meaning, the city that never sleeps whispered to me when I was a young teen growing up in Italy, a mirage at the horizon.

My room’s balcony faced the splendor of the entire Bay of Naples – the IMG_2091magnificent islands of Ischia and Capri, the legendary Sorrento Peninsula – but it was the jagged skyline of New York City that I saw. That I ached for.  If only I could travel there, be there, live there…

Decades later, well, I don’t live in the city of my youthful dreams, but just outside of it.   A short drive (or train ride) to the Big Apple, and I can roam its mythical streets.

Yes, I’m that lucky, my friends.

It catches in my throat – my breath – and I exult every single time that I set foot on the electrifying avenues of this great city.

Lunch on 37th floor, NYC
Lunch on 37th floor, NYC

Some years ago (okay, many, many years), I traveled to New York for the first time. A savvy (I thought) young Neapolitan citizen, who had mastered the tortuous streets of her native Naples, just visiting another city.

But it wasn’t just a “another city”. It was New York! Lost I became in the wide boulevards, the madding crowds, the scent of power/luxury/freedom, dazzled by this polyglot paradise, where life had the taste of nothing is impossible.

No, I don’t mind waiting in the long queue on 34th to climb the staircase (or speed elevator) to New York’s home in the clouds. A panorama that tells the story of what one can accomplish if one truly wants.

Spice stand at 42nd St

Dream, my friends, hope, plot, construct, create, let those words you fear to speak flow unbound, because, yes, your life matters, your desires, your values, your every breath.
New York sizzles around me, it embraces my visions, nods at my reveries because they can become real, damn it.

Mara, terrace 37th floor, Empire State Bldg in background
Terrace on 37th floor, at Lexington

I live the colors, the aromas, the energy, the stunning beauty that this city unwraps at my feet, warm and icy, stimulating and insane, touchingly friendly.

The Ne plus ultra metropolis of my childish visions unfolds like a star-studded carpet.  Every day.

Thirty years and counting, but this mad, infuriating, exhilarating, breath-taking city still makes me feel like it’s my first time.

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