Plinky.com asked me what is my favourite place in the world.
Actually, the answer is home – http://vincet.net/2010/08/11/with-these-things-i-am-at-home/ – but as the prompt demanded I choose a geographic location I'll say New York City, and in particular Central Park.
New York and I have a long history, starting in the mid-80s when, as an 18-yr old, I first travelled to the US (first left the UK), landing at JFK where I was picked up by an unofficial cab, who proceeded to take me to the middle of Manhattan – the red-light district – and took all my money, leaving me at Port Authority with only $3 in my pocket, no credit card and the phone number for the one person I knew in the city – the sister of a friend (and now my savior).
I worked summer camp in upstate New York for 5 years, so was a pretty regular visitor into the city.
Fast forward 13 years. In 2003, I got a temporary assignment in NYC and we relocated to Manhattan for most of the year. We had an apartment on W68th just off Central Park West. Elise was 11 months old when we arrived in NYC, and she learned to walk in the park.
I love New York because it is energy, just straight up energy. Still largely a walking city, we very quickly got into the sense of neighbourhood – people we saw every day; restaurants, shops and bars; transit routes in and out. Although we moved out of the city at the end of 2003, to settle here in CT – a decision driven more by not wanting our kids raised and schooled in the city – I've been back many, many times.
The last two years of my corporate life were spent living in the city for 2-3 days of the week, and I walked the length and breadth of Manhattan island. A song emerged from these walks, Corinthian Pt II – http://iacmusic.com/songs.aspx?SongID=68035 – which dealt with my transient status and the energy of the city.
Whenever I visit, I find myself nowhere more than Central Park.
Having had the luxury of the park on our doorstep, I grew very used to its paths, nooks and crannies. Far from the "don't go in after dark" mantra of the 80s, by the time we were living in the city, the park was a haven for families and kids of all ages. On a Sunday, Sheep Meadow was filled to the brim with people.
The audacity of this planned natural spectacle in one of the world's major cities is astounding. And the effect it has – the city's noise fading into the background, just the roofline of buildings visible over the trees – is magical, it really does transport me to somewhere different.
The original plot line for my latest novel Family Rules – http://familyrules.wordpress.com – came to me during 2003, and it's no surprise that several key scenes are located in Central Park; it's a place where stories seem to grow.
And that's just about all there is to say, New York is a city of stories and it has been a recurrent feature of my own story in this life. I look forward to chapters unwritten.