Today was a good day. I was in New York City. More specifically on the Upper West Side and in Central Park, both of which feel like home. It is hard to believe that it has been almost twenty years since I moved from a small town in Louisiana into my first NYC apartment on W. 95th St. between Central Park West and Columbus. Surprisingly, I adjusted quickly to my kitchen in a closet, doing laundry in the basement and taking the subway to get around. I fell in love with New York City. Every day was a learning experience. I loved just walking down the busy streets, meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures, trying different cuisines from one of the many restaurants that existed on every block, seeing pieces of art in museums that I had only seen in books, shopping at cute dress stores and enjoying Central Park. I did the last two today.
Finding three fabulous dresses at a tempo Couture put a little pep in my step, but it wasn’t until I wandered into Central Park at 72nd St. that a feeling of bliss came over me. This deep satisfaction, happiness, and joy might have had a little to do with the ice cream that I enjoyed walking through the park, but I think it mainly can be attributed to the flood of memories I had of being in the park over the past two decades. Below is some of the greatest hits from the reel that rolled in my mind.
Countless Days in the Park with Perdita- Before my beloved Lexie, I had a Dalmatian named Perdita. Living close to the park was great. Perdita joined the “dog party” twice a day for a morning and afternoon play date. Her two best friends were Winston, a great dance, and Payton, a yellow lab. I also remember Betty, the pug. Perdita loved all seasons and would run through massive amounts of snow in the winter and was never shy to take a dip in the lake in the summer.
Bethesda Fountain - I have always thought this is one of the prettiest places in New York City and it is a great place to people watch. The fountain is also known as the Angel of Waters and is one of the largest fountains in the city. It is no surprise that it has served as a backdrop for many movies.
The Great Lawn - This 55-acre green pasture is in the center of Central Park. I have many memories of catching some rays on the weekend, picnicking with friends and going to concerts.
Ice Skating at Wollman Rink - One of the happiest memories I have of Central Park is when my family visited me in New York for the first time. We went ice skating, all of us. I don’t remember my family doing activities like that when I was young, but being in Central Park got us all on skates and gave me a memory of us enjoying an activity together.
The Boathouse Cafe’- This is a great place to have lunch, especially in the summer. I often would go there with my friends that would be visiting from out-of-town. Another fond memory was seeing Blondi with my friends Monique and Dawn at the New Years Eve Party in 1997 at the Boathouse. I still remember belting out Heart of Glass and Rapture!
The Conservatory Garden- Two main memories come to mind when I think of the Conservatory Garden. The first is taking my wedding pictures in the fall of 1998. All I am going to say about that is my friends, and I still laugh about the candid photographer and family drama. The other memory that stands out is meeting my friend Jill when we would take a lunch break on the days we worked at Mount Sinai Hospital. She had no idea that she played a significant role in the healing process of my divorce. Thanks to her, I still enjoy the Conservatory Garden.
The Zoo - Visiting the zoo with my son will always be near and dear to my heart. It is just a fun place to be and even more fun to watch his excitement.When he was little, he liked the Tisch Children’s Zoo, and as he became older, we visited the Central Park Zoo often.
Victoria Gardens - When the winter months come to a close, so does the Wollman Rink. During the summer months, Victoria Gardens appears, and it is a fun family amusement park for young children. Spending the day at Victoria Gardens was always one of my favorite things to do with my son when he was young.
Rock Climbing- Climbing the rocks located towards the south end of the park has always been one of my son’s favorite things to do. He learned to conquer new heights at two and a half. It still is one of his favorite past times when we are in the park.
Playgrounds and Afternoon Snacks- With twenty playgrounds, there is always a place for the kids to be kids. On a summer day, there is nothing like splashing in one of the spray parks after playing in the sand. Well, maybe the only thing better is getting a tasty treat.
Model Boat Sailing - Between April and October, the best sailing in New York City is at Central Park’s Conservatory Water. Sailing the model boats was a tremendous hit with my son and nephew. In the summer you can also sail these model sailboats that are for rent on Friday and Saturday night under the stars. It is cool to see the illuminated boats.
Carriage Rides - Okay, I have to tell you I am not a huge fan of carriage rides. I feel sorry for the horses, and it is expensive. I did succumb twice. The first time was when my sister and kids came to visit. I was recovering from foot surgery, and it was an easy way to get around the park. Surprisingly, we learned a lot about the history of the park. The second time was when I was in the park with my god-daughter. Her big blue eyes swayed me and her smile sealed the deal.
I love Central park because it is a special place. It has brought my family and me together at different times in my life and also has been a beautiful oasis to gather with my friends and spend quality time with my son.
Do you have a favorite place that has brought your loved ones close together?