Friday, April 30, 2010

Where I First Fell In Love ...

For once, a guy wasn't involved. I'd fallen in love with a city. It happened at the Midtown Intercontinental Hotel. As with most clandestine love affairs, I arrived late in the evening and was welcomed with a full service spa and a fluffy white robe.

The next morning, I was out on the street, grabbing a bagel and coffee from a street cart. People in dark suits were rushing by, making way to their offices. I wasn't expected in the office until 9 am so I had some time to leisurely saunter, although sauntering on a weekday on Park Avenue in midtown is hardly possible. The energy and vibrance in the air was so much more than I experienced in Salt Lake City.

I walked into the tall and somewhat plain tower Chase CEO Jamie Dimon now calls home and checked in with the security guards. On my way through the building, I spotted a huge food court, with a Starbucks and freshly made sushi, along with more choices than mall food courts in Utah. But alas, it was barely past breakfast, and I was too excited to eat.

I spent the day meeting with Investment Bankers and learning how they underwrite insurance companies, financial institutions, and foreign companies. I met many wonderful people with whom I'd only had a telephone relationship up to that point. And the next day, I met with bankers who managed operational risk, since that was one of my areas of emphasis at my division of Chase.

A few deli's and Robert DeNiro's restaurant Tribeca Grill were also amongst the stopping points. I didn't really do anything else "touristy" besides walk around and observe the big city sophistication.

As bland as all of that sounds, it was wonderful and began my love affair with New York. I've been back many times since, and each time I become a little more familiar with landmarks, tourist traps, parks, buildings, streets, neighborhoods, and shopping. And people ask me for directions and information on which subway to take, so apparently I look as if I blend into the crowd. It's sort of gratifying in a way.

My move to NYC remains under consideration. My son lives there, and I suspect even after he graduates from Columbia, he'll stay. Two weeks after he moved to the Big Apple, he called me from his 207 square foot apartment and said more or less, "I don't know how, but I'm going to make it here. I'm never leaving. This is where I want to be."

If nothing else, I'll visit my beloved NYC often. It may be one long distance love affair that really works.

Photos courtesy of Phillip Bastian

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