Today is US election day. You probably know that already - at least I hope you do. Well, kind of. It would also be quite awesome to discover that there are people who don't know, because they're just not invested in the outcome, but I'm pretty sure at this stage that no such people exist*. Today, then, also seems like a remarkably fitting day to talk about the peacefulness, and joy, and serene pleasure that comes from being in the centre. Not politically (because HAHA, THERE IS NO SUCH THING, and also, I'm sure we've all had enough of politics) but geographically. Geographically in New York, that is - pretty certain simply standing in the centre of most places isn't a shortcut to inner peace and solitude. But in New York, it is, thanks to the prescience of the planners that eventuated in the giant chunk of land that is Central Park!
I was actually mightily unimpressed with Central Park when I first moved here, acknowledging and appreciating that it was pretty, but still more fond of the prevalence of London parks. Central Park was more imposing, admittedly, but I preferred the situation in London, where you were never too far from a nice little park in which to partake of your lunch, even if it was a ridiculously minute piece of land. It felt more right to me. More egalitarian.
And then I moved uptown, close to the park, and I stopped caring. How quickly we go from liberal to conservative when we're on the right side of the grass!
Despite wanting nothing more than to live closer to something green when we were in Murray Hill, I don't actually go to the park all that much. Kind of like you think you want a car elevator, then you get one and realise you don't really have enough time to appreciate it. It's a shame, because every time I do go to Central Park I remember just how magical it is. The size of it isn't show-offy** as much as it is clever. It allows you to get lost and forget you're even in a city, before the path twists and you suddenly see straight down to the towering buildings of Midtown. It allows you to wander without seeing anyone else for minutes on end - something that can't be recommended more highly when you live in a city where you're never alone. It allows you to reconnect with nature, by cooing over the squirrels, freaking out over the pigeons, and trying valiantly to identify trees (oak. Definitely an oak. They're always oaks).
H1 and I get into the park at least a couple of times each season. Sometimes we do sickeningly adorable things, like taking a picnic and enjoying lunch al fresco, but usually we just go for a wander. The other day, we decided to use the park as a 'shortcut'*** to get to Bed Bath and Beyond. That's the other nice thing about living close to the park - it can be used as a road alternative****, preventing you from ending up irrationally hating everyone when you just need to go to Bed Bath and Beyond on a Saturday*****.
So on Saturday, we wandered peacefully, enjoying the sights that autumn brings to the park:
Just looking at the pictures is making me feel all calm and content again. Central Park really is an amazing asset to the city. There are not as many things in this world that are so special, and so completely available to anyone, as there should be. After all, you don't have to be lucky enough to live near the park to go there. Anyone can go there and enjoy it, anytime (except at nighttime. Then it's closed). Maybe I'm just a West Side liberal nut pseudo-intellectual******, but I think that's how more of the world should be.
And with that, I am going to congratulate myself about not writing one little thing about politics, even on the internationally important US election day, and go tidy my fridge*******.
*Checking the media of my other countries reveals that both the UK and New Zealand know and care about the US election. Going a bit further, it would seem that Ireland, Brazil, Australia, Malta, and South Africa all also know and care, and probably other places too, but I got sick of looking at online newspapers' front pages. Good to know it's not only me who's completely worn out by the whole palaver.
**Well, it's a bit show-offy. Not as much as, say, being one person who owns a couple of Cadillacs is, though.
***Not actually a shorter way, but much nicer than pushing our way through the crowds on Broadway.
****Well, it can be used as a road alternative if H1 is with you. If he is not, you will get confused by the twisty paths and end up by the Plaza. And by you, I mean me.
*****Park proximity or no park proximity, this is how you can tell we are still very much members of the 99%. I assume those in the 1% have some sort of Bed Bath and Beyond alternative, though I don't know what - anyone have any ideas?
******Name that movie!
*******Not a joke. But I wish it was.