The Passeggiata, May 27, 2014


The first week of May I waited in the doorway of a Broadway cream-puffery for a face I hadn’t seen in 7 years.

In college, through sheer luck, I was offered an internship at my dream magazine. I flew up to New York for a month, lived in a hotel, and had the adventure of my life. My then -supervisor and I kept in touch for many, many years. Recently I gave her an update on my career, and now that I had a free day here or there, we decided to meet and catch up.

“You haven’t changed!” she exclaimed as she met me at the door of the bakery. Neither had she. We laughed and smiled and sat for a long while. The new gig was a job she had in her early days before she was as successful as she is now, so she had lots of good advice. It was a great comfort to know I could reach out to her whenever I needed some support.

On the subject of work-life-balance, she suggested having some habit that keeps me sane and level. For her, that habit was morning walks to work from her old neighborhood on the Upper East Side to Times Square.

“I’d eat a chocolate croissant every day,” she laughed in her genuine manner.

“In the summer I do an after work walk,” I said, referring to my Thursday evening passeggiata’s that began a few years ago to take advantage of the weather.I used to go to shops, buy sweets, and enjoy the sunset.

In my early years, I did the same walk from Columbus Circle up to Lincoln Center. I’d buy an original flavor Pinkberry frozen yogurt with oreos, make a pit stop to sit on one of those silver breakers outside of Time Warner Center. I’d keep going north, and lay on my back at the fountain (even in nice dresses!), looking at the stars and listening to Prokofiev.

Later I switched to Central Park north, and in later years, Soho and Noho and Union Square. When I lived on 68th Street, I’d get off the train at 59th Street and walk Lexington or Fifth Avenue. Because I was prone to different paths at different moments in my life, returning to those spots is like returning to an old frame of mind.

At the time of our coffee and cream puffs, the weather was sliding into spring. Per her advice, I decided firmly that I would restart my evening walks that following week. That Thursday night I crossed 42nd Street  and marched east. My new commute reminds me of Old New York and I decided to wander there. Every day now I pass through Grand Central, already laden with history, cross big streets, wading through suits, camel-colored bags, shoes, tight ties, pencil skirts. I pass Chrysler Building, I always feel like I’m falling back in time, that I’m doing something that people have been doing for a long, long time.

On that walk I passed 42nd and Madison, an important spot due to a few good memories there. I crossed to the other side, and appreciated (for the hundredth time), how the lovely travertine on the Grace Building arcs down into the sidewalks.

(It’s so easy to fall in love with New York this way.)

Closer to Broadway, outside of the office where my old-boss-turned-mentor used to work, I paused and looked up at the building looming over me. In my brief internship days I used to walk to and from work from my hotel near Penn Station. Never did I imagine how things would be now. I’m, on a general basis, a negative pessimist. But not that evening.

“Remember when I was there and I wanted nothing more than to move to New York and work for a magazine?” I asked myself. “Well…guess what?”

Ariel DavisComment