Before this summer, a trip to the Upper East Side was a rarity. So rare that it felt like taking a vacation. This summer, it became a regular destination for me. In a way, the Upper East Side defined my summer.
The Upper East Side has always intrigued me. It is not my turf or territory – it has always been that of another. A land shrouded in mystery that is a treat for me, the outsider. I think what intrigues me is that it is not mine. I may know how to navigate it, but navigation is not the same as knowing a place. To me, it is an anomaly in the City. Yes, each area in the City is unique, but sometimes you can find congruity between them. The Upper East Side is a land onto itself. A land of elegance and difference at the same time.
The Upper East Side is elegant. It has a a different light. The light that shines on Fifth Avenue differs from that on Central Park West. It is a brighter and warmer. It is a light that welcomes me, the outsider. It invites me to the Met, my favorite museum. Upon entering, everything else melts away under the influence of the Impressionists or the Greek gallery. The Met is not like taking a vacation, it is a vacation. On Labor Day, I used the Met to transport me to northern Italy. What better way to spend a day free of labor.
Beyond Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue beckons like an adult playground. Madison Avenue is another museum and everything is curated just right. It is spick and span. There is not a leaf out of place. The stores are elegant and do not possess a hint of the flashiness like those that inhabit Fifth Avenue in the Fifties.
I could continue on explaining each Avenue on the Upper East Side and my feelings towards them, but I feel the point has been made. The Upper East Side is just different. It is special. This summer I spent so much time there that it changed for me or maybe it changed me. After a summer with trips to The Met, The Whitney Museum, The Frick, meals on Lexington, and forays to First Avenue, the Upper East Side has started to become routine. It still feels like taking a vacation, but perhaps it is like spending the summer on the East End of Long Island – something that is done with frequency throughout the summer.
Just like going to the Hamptons, I too went East. Just to a different East. An East that is starting to become my East.