The City as Spectacle

“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need to do is stroll about with our eyes open.”

In early April I found myself at a mid-level hotel in mid-town Manhattan. My husband, Jon, was busy helping his mom with some projects and my son, Aaron, had virtual meetings with his college advisor and some studying to do on his spring break. The reason for our visit was to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. But the party wasn’t until Saturday night. I had eight days stretching before me.

I’m no wide-eyed tourist. I lived in New York for seven years before moving to San Francisco. I know how to hold my bag close to my body, stride confidently through the ever-changing zigzag of crosswalks with their walk and don’t walk signs and construction tunnels, and not gawk at tall buildings or store windows. I had no plans to see Broadway musicals or visit 30 Rock.

But with an inner clock still set to California time and many of the sights within walking distance, I became a hybrid visitor: in the city but not of it…