For years now I’ve been making the eastward journey to New York for an annual company retreat, which also happens to coincide with the International Furniture Fair. It’s a trip I look forward to for the camaraderie being with my fellow Apartment Therapy team members, whom I normally only communicate virtually through computer or through conference calls, while also providing an opportunity to see old friends who reside there, and the bonus of soaking in precious, but scant moments to soak in the culture of the greatest metropolis in the country. But the yearly trip can also be extremely tiring and a bit alienating, being the lone West Coaster journeying alone where life seems on contrast to the ebb and flow of my SoCal lifestyle. Although I have plenty of wonderful memories while on the other side of country (who wouldn’t, spending precious days in quiet solitude in the East Hamptons?), one thing was always missing: Emily.
But this year our professional and personal schedules aligned, and Emily was able to accompany me to return to the city she left over a decade ago. For a week we walked across the city with purpose, revisiting previous haunts, dining with friends both new and old, working tirelessly during the day and collapsing for some well earned winks before starting all over again the next day. And thankfully we were permitted a few moments of unplanned roaming around a metropolis that never slumbers once the work week was done (I can’t stress how much I loved NYC more when I had moments like this to enjoy, if only for a few minutes). It was my favourite time in New York…it was the first time I was accompanied by the person who shares my appreciation for the quiet details, the smallest moments and often times the simplest of pleasures.
New York experienced alongside Emily gave each day a rhythm and harmony which afforded me a better appreciation of a city that can be feel a bit lonesome, distant and occasionally superficial (which is saying a lot, coming from Los Angeles!). But through Emily’s eyes, the city had a more historical, romantic feel, which each stoop and every corner abound with memories from her own past or ones she learned from others. It’s as if I had been watching a movie in a foreign language I wasn’t fluent in and now Emily was there to fill in the subtitles. New York with someone who understands and appreciates your subtleties and preferences makes a significant difference that cannot be understated, though it’s likely true for any foreigner in a foreign land. For once, the city didn’t tire me nor wear me down. I had a shoulder to lean on this time.