Don’t get me wrong–this is not a post about bashing New York. I actually hate it when people bash New York. Of all the places I’ve traveled to and lived, New York was, is, and always will be home. But I’m about to leave this home, I need some measure of comfort to remind myself that it’s not all moonlight and roses. Ok, none of it is moonlight and roses, but a good deal about New York is really cool. However, you can’t really love something unless you recognize its imperfections. So in order to assuage myself about leaving, a list of things I will not miss about the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of.”
Originally this was supposed to be a list, but I got onto such a tangent about the heat and beaches that I will have to separate my posts. Nobody complains with quite the same finesse as a New Yorker.
The past three days have seen temperatures near a hundred degrees. At 70, New York is delightful. At 80, a pleasant, summery warm. But at 90 degrees, New York turns into a sticky, smelly mess. It’s like a kid with melted popsicle all over his face–if the popsicle were BO flavored and made with sewage and garbage. On top of that, for some meteorological reason that I do not know (best guess–proximity to the ocean), weather here is almost always humid. I’ve actually been to Las Vegas and experienced the dry desert heat people always say makes them able to live in places like Phoenix, and what they say is actually true. That oven like heat is far more bearable than the pea soup of New York in summer.
Ok, so bad enough that summer gets pretty crappy, but a New Yorker’s options for beating the heat are few, and of poor quality. Inside, most people have unit air conditioners. Buildings are older, and wiring for central air doesn’t really make sense for three months of the year. So most people have window units in their apartments and houses–you can see them sticking out as you walk down any street in the boroughs, hear their hum. Inside, of course, the gentle hum is magnified 200 times so that it sounds like you’re sitting in a jet engine, with only a small radius of cool.
So you say–f this, I’m getting in some water. Good luck finding some. Pools are only for the very rich, or those with nice backyards, or people who are willing to give over their entire backyard to a pool. If you’re really rich, you can go to a hotel pool, which seem really swanky but cost probably a few thousand dollars for a summer membership. The other option is the public pool, but that’s really like being squeezed onto a subway car in tepid water, except there is a slightly greater chance of being the casualty of a cannonball. I’m not really rich, nor really a masochist, so my option is the beach.
Let me be honest–NY beaches pretty much suck. You have to walk across a mile of sand to get to the water, and not only is it really difficult to walk across mounds of dry sand (garnering new respect for camels), this sand is also scorching hot, so that by the time you reach the water, the soles of your feet are seared a nice medium rare, complete with grill lines. But of course, finding a place to set up your towel and chair is virtually impossible because every one of the eight million inhabitants of the great city of New York has decided to go to the beach. Several loud boomboxes compete with each other, and children scream at a pitch far louder and shriller than seagulls. But you can’t go back without dunking your feet in the water at least. You came so far! So you squeeze your towel in between two others much like wedging yourself into a seat in the subway* and go down to the water. There are fabled beaches all over the world with glittering water in variegated shades of azure, turquoise, ultramarine, and cerulean lapping gently at bright white sand. The New York beaches boast miles of dun colored lava sand, as I described, and gorgeous gray, opaque water which crashes onto the sand with such force it’s surprising more of Long Island hasn’t been pulverized into sand. When I was in Nice they would shut down all the beaches for waves half the size of those at Jones beach. And should you actually decide you have the superhuman strength to swim these tempestuous waters, you get the delight of experiencing water so cold Jack’s quick death in Titanic makes a lot of sense. And then an unidentifiable clump of what might be seaweed or human hair brushes against your leg.
The fiance complains how tourist ridden Tenerife and the Costa Brava are. I don’t get it and I do. To me the Canary Islands and Spain are exotic destinations. But when I told him I would be thrilled with a honeymoon in the Mediterranean he scoffed that that was a weekend trip. I struggle to see the world this way, but yet I understand. If someone suggested a honeymoon on the Florida beaches as someplace exotic and far flung, I would scoff at them. I just have trouble aligning Mallorca with Tampa. However, at all of the above the beaches are better than New York.
England doesn’t do summer with half as much punishment. Arguably, they barely do summer at all. The next ten days show temperatures in the mid-sixties with plenty of rain–i.e. April. I might miss the 80 degree days of basking in pleasant warmth, but after a heat wave, I can honestly say goodbye to New York summers with a smile on my face. Which might melt off if I step outside.
*Ok, I know I used this simile twice, but it was too apt in both cases to change.