It was enlightening to be back. Unquestionably one of the world’s most iconic cities. Featured in films that have become part of our lives. Inspired songs that have created defining moments of our time. And as many would claim at this point in history, the world’s capital.
It was my first winter experience in the Big Apple. It was several degrees below. Ice skating was now the central feature of Central Park. Bryant Park off 5th Avenue glittered in the evening light as ice skaters, surrounded by Christmas stalls, danced to the sounds of carols. As night set in the Rockefeller centre transformed to a glistening display of festive decorations and lights. Despite the increasing chill, the pulse of the city that doesn’t sleep, doesn’t seem to miss a beat.
But just beyond the vibrancy and pulsating bright lights of Broadway and Times Square, one feels a marked contrast. Maybe it’s where the Trump factor come January will have the promised impact. To reinvigorate the previous shine of it’s subways. Or some of the urban areas that feed into it. Perhaps it was the grey shadow cast by the chill of a cold winters night. But curiously, amongst otherwise dormant looking suburban streets, a huge laundromat crowded with people provides an unusual landmark. Could raising the socio economic level of such communities effectively reduce the need for people of all ages to venture out on a cold winters night.
But bright lights and laundromats aside, I was here for another reason. It had been 47 years since we first met. We were then pimply aged teenagers. The Rotary international student exchange program had sent a student from a small village in up state New York to an even smaller dot on the map in South Australia.
How times have changed. As kids we used to watch Dick Tracy on TV. The fantasy of communicating on that infamous watch is now close to a common reality. Our respective grandkids were now experiencing Christmas from the other side of the globe, in real time. One enjoying a Christmas in sweltering forty plus heat. And here, experiencing a white Christmas in sub zero temperatures. While we have whitened up ourselves a bit on top, the world has certainly shrunk in those forty seven years. While sharing moments of Christmas with family back home live online, what nicer way to share the magic of a white Christmas than with the warm hospitality of the Greene family. Thank you Doug & Michele.