Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My New York Trip: Scintillating

When I last left off writing I had just arrived at the Hotel Chelsea. I was led to my room by the bellhop, I suppose that was his title. I wasn't clear (not that it mattered) because he also answers the phone and I didn't know if that was the term used these days. Before he unlocked my door, he led me to the stairwell and showed me how the art lines the walls all up and down the floors, and told me I could also enter the hallways where more paintings could be found. From the way some of the pieces incorporated the theme "I love Hotel Chelsea," and that there were multiple pieces from the same artists, I got the feeling some artists had worked for their room at the Chelsea.

I've never stayed in a hotel where the bellhop brought your luggage and unlocked the door for you and checked the room that everything was in order. Suddenly I realized I had no idea what to tip, so I found a few bucks and hoped I wasn't too gauche (I'm sure I was). Of course it also felt kind of odd after I had hauled my luggage from train to subway, up and down stairs and across the street to have someone ease the load for a few steps and an elevator ride. I immediately shucked my outer shirt (it was hot and muggy still) while he tested the ancient air conditioner and said, "This hotel is old school." He said, "If you need anything, just pick up that phone and dial zero."

I rested, cooled down for a bit, then went back down to take a walk and take in the New York streets, just see what I could see, maybe find some of that famous NY pizza.

As I wandered from West 23rd Street to Madison Square Garden and back, a smile tugged on my face and I saw it reflected in the people around me. It seemed like everyone knew and shared in my delight. Something that grabbed my attention more than the tall buildings were the architectural details that graced their sides. Lofty ideals embodied in words and mythic creatures found the hidden patriot in this peacenik.

I came to realize something on that scintillescent walk. A long time ago, when I was 30, I fell in love in a way that broke open my heart like never before. In the time since I have fallen in love several more times, including with my current husband. I have come to believe that falling in love happens because a person is ripe for it, that moments and conditions and hopefully the right person come along and a person just tips over from being full of potential into a waterfall of love. I could see that it made complete sense that in that awakening of my heart I also experienced a need to withdraw from the thin-skinned world of Zen meditation retreats.

In that bright clear world I could fall in love with all around me, so readily. Some part of me knew I needed to withdraw while I learned to fall in love and get back up without doing damage to me and others. My Buddhist practice naturally flowed toward service and kindness toward others. Love informs. Falling in love keeps my heart tender. So here I was again, a thin bag of skin filled with love just ready to flow into a ready vessel, fresh from a gathering where I'd straddled the worlds of activity and stillness, and I knew I could love just as was needed, and accept, just as was needed, and let go, just as needed.

I did happen upon a brick oven pizza place, where I ate a slice of marguerite pizza, almost as good as my favorite place here in Portland, Apizza Scholls. Back at the hotel I saw some other guests picking out brochures, and I gathered some touristy information to help plan my two days.


Anonymous said...

Find out more about that "I Love Chelsea" artwork by reading Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea blog. A non-corporate blog about daily life at the famed hotel.

Anonymous said...

You haven't been hanging around the entrance to SoHo House by any chance, have you?