Most nights, Mr. Magpie takes Tilly for her evening walk while I handle minimagpie’s bedtime routine — unless I’m out for the evening, in which case we swap, and in which case I take Tilly out in Central Park whenever I get home. You might think that walking a dog in the dark through a largely abandoned public park would be an unpleasant, borderline nerve-wracking experience, and while I’ve encountered my fair share of odd sightings — some real and some phantom — by and large, the late night walk is peaceful and uneventful. The park is drained of tourists. Sure, you’ll stumble upon the occasional lovebirds or clusters of Europeans smoking cloves, but what’s primarily left is a retiring bunch of local dog-owners, many of whom tend to themselves, the majority of whom live in my building or the one just next to mine, and a handful of whom strike up the usual dog-parent banalities (“what breed?” “how old?” “what a beauty!” “lots of energy”) with the tempered interest that more commonly accompanies comments on the weather.
Mainly, though, the walk is cinematic, and I’m always hyper-aware of the fact that I will one day look back on the way Manhattan looks at night, from the north-side of the Heckscher Ballfields, with a kind of wistful nostalgia. Something about the intervals of street lamps and shadows casts a film noir glow over Central Park, though the mood is far from the pessimism and menace those movies typically conjure. Instead, the skyscrapers along Columbus Circle and Central Park West stretch from the park treetops in a way that telegraphs avuncular calm rather than looming intimidation, their presence correct, decorous, demure in some way, their faces a purple-gray dotted irregularly with squares of gleaming yellow — the windows of fellow New Yorkers brushing their teeth, or searing their steaks in their small galley kitchens, or huddling by a laptop to send off a final email.
New York feels personal and startlingly knowable on these nights, so different from the days, during which I tend to feel anonymous, and during which corners of Broadway and Columbus and Amsterdam can feel shockingly different than they did just an hour or two prior, owing to the alchemy of lighting, of the presence or absence of street vendors, of the unanticipated erection or removal of scaffolding, of the flow of crowds.
I first recognized I could belong to New York during a late-night walk with Tilly at my side, first saw myself as a New Yorker strolling through the intermittent shadows lining one of its pleasantly broad and well-kept pathways at 10:33 or 11:01 or 9:27 p.m. — in short, I first fell in love with New York at night.
I am grateful for many things in my life right now, and I thought I might share some of the smaller moments for which I am grateful here from time to time. Today, I am grateful for New York by night.
What are you grateful for today?
+Though I hate the way they’ve styled it in the photo, this gives me major Charlotte York vibes. Imagine it with big floral earrings (I own these and would wear them with it in a second) or pearls and some pretty sandals? (P.S. Ever since I mentioned aspiring to look like an approachable version of Charlotte York, I’ve been on an SATC bend. Ahem.)
+This is just darling. (And on sale.)
+This would be such an elegant way to serve appetizers. I was about to write “to serve canapes,” but when have I ever made a canape? I don’t even know what a canape is — I just know that, according to my limited perception, everyone ate them in the late 90s and early 00s. On second thought, they tray would be perfect for heaps of oven fries or maybe a mound of grilled asparagus.
+I don’t know why I thought this was so funny, and, improbably enough, pondered buying it for my mom, who is the least likely of any human walking this planet to end up in hell, but I thought of her because she has a needlepoint pillow that reads: “If you can’t say something nice…come sit next to me.” It’s a ridiculous slogan for her to have in her house because she might be the least petty-minded, gossip-inclined woman I know, but it makes her laugh and it makes me laugh, too. Maybe I’ll buy it for my bestie instead, because we used to have a joke about going to hell in a handbasket together. (She also recently used this phrase, which I promptly filched: “are you reading the book, or did you drop it like a bad habit?”)
+PSA for all parents: this was a sleeper hit of a toy, and more than worth the five dollars spent on it. At first, I wasn’t sure mini “got” it, but she certainly does now, and sometimes I’ll just take one page with a few stickers on it and it keeps her preoccupied for ten or fifteen minutes at a restaurant. A good idea for travel, too. Highly recommend.
+These little mats are a clever idea for cordoning off a little play area for a not-yet-mobile babe. I used a quilt for mini, but I like that these hold their shape!
+I indulgently ordered these for Tilly…