A couple of weeks ago, I took an impromptu trip to New York. I wanted to spend some time in the city while it was decked out in all its holiday glory; more than that, I craved some time with my brother and sister-in-law, who I hadn’t seen since the summer.
(It of course would have made more sense to wait until the holidays, when I have time off; but when have I been one to postpone travel in the name of logic? Planning is not really my strong point.)
In any case, the weekend was exactly what I needed: bagels, cocktails, laughter, serious talks, snow. We walked around The Strand and Union Square, navigated icy Brooklyn sidewalks, attended a poetry reading at a small and sleepy bar, dodged 20somethings dressed in festive onesies for SantaCon.
One of my favorite parts of the trip, though, was an afternoon spent at The Met with my brother. I love museums, but don’t always love the crowds that go along with them. I am aware, in museums, that I have so much to learn, and it can feel daunting to confront the history, religion, conflict, and beauty that artists use in their storytelling.
That Sunday, though, was somehow perfect: despite the crowds, I felt a pervasive and deep appreciation for the experience of being there with one of my favorite people. We walked through the Michelangelo exhibit, and I marveled at the proof of his continued practice, even after he’d become a master. We took our time in an exhibit about drawings; I leaned in close to a self-portrait by Goya, fascinated by the preservation of that small piece of paper as much as by the image itself. We wandered through sculpture and Van Goghs and Bonnards and so, so much more.
I found myself thinking – as I do when I’m lucky enough to witness great art of any kind – about the importance of creativity. It’s a vital part of our world, yet we pretend it’s something extra, a mere hobby. Walking around The Met, surrounded by art that has communicated emotion, history, and passion for hundreds of years, spanning time and location and individuality, it’s so clear that we need to be connected to one another in that way. To think that we question art makes me question us.
At the end of the day, my brother and I walked outside to the quickly darkening skies. We descended the stairs where we’d sat a few hours earlier, sharing a tuna melt and coffee, and headed towards the subway. Passing windows alight with Christmas trees and warmth, still slipping here and there on sidewalks that were occasionally icy, we talked about all we’d seen. And for one brief moment, in the midst of the pulse of New York, I didn’t suffer from wanderlust. On that chilly December night, I was exactly where I wanted to be.