People fall in love with Manhattan easily in summer, when Central Park becomes dotted with people and turns into a picture-perfect Sunday afternoon scene. NYC in warm weather is like a summer romance – lovely and lazily shifting with the breeze.
But Manhattan in winter is like nowhere else.
Strangers buttoned up in long, dark coats rush through the sidewalks, burying their faces in scarves and exchanging moody glances.
I want a love that mimics the New York February cold.
The kind of cold that stings your face and makes your nose and ears go numb right before you cave and duck into somewhere warm and inviting, like a coffee shop or a bookstore. As soon as the warmth hits, you feel safe, but there’s still a strange, cool, tingling sensation that lingers on your cheeks. It takes its slow, sweet time fading away, reminding you of the cold you just experienced. Loving New York City is a strange feeling. It’s cool yet safe, it’s sweet and slow, and it lingers. Love me just like that.
New York challenges me. It urges that I be myself. It doesn’t wrap its arms around me and tell me I can be anyone I want to be. It requires me to be exactly who I am. It steps back and lets me be my own source of comfort and strength, giving me the push I need to love myself first; the city second.
Manhattan in winter is real. It isn’t a fairytale drenched in the summer sun. It’s completely its own, and you love it differently.
It isn’t always exhilarating. Sometimes, it’s mundane and routine. Many times, it’s exhausting.
But occasionally, you’ll climb out of a cab on Spring Street and the wind will catch your hair at just the right moment as a bus speeds past. You’ll glance up at the snow-covered street sign feeling like you’re falling in love for the first time.
I’ve fallen in love with New York City for the first time many times. In the cold, it has shown me that love at first sight doesn’t exist.
Instead, love catches you little by little in quiet moments as you shake the snow off of your boots before swinging through an office’s revolving door. Or as you clumsily maneuver over half-frozen cobblestone streets while impatient taxi drivers wave their hands in the distance.
I want love that takes its roots little by little in honest moments like that.
People say New York is lonely. They talk about it like it’s a machine that grinds you up and churns you back out with a hardened heart and broken dreams. But I don’t feel that. I see lights in the buildings, hearts in the people and big windows with sweeping views hundreds of floors up waiting for me to take it in.
In a city that’s ever-changing, there is just enough romance to keep me guessing and just enough consistency to keep me from running away.
When I moved here, I found hope and life and chaos and change. I found laughter and genius and honesty and poetry and little corners of myself.
I found you, too. And while the noise, light and movement blur throughout the city, you will find me, standing in the middle of it all – inspired.