Quite the shock to my system, turning up daily for a 9.30am start in the dark heart of midtown, after more than two years of a part-time and flexible work schedule. So far I’ve survived five days (not that I’m counting) and have three weeks to go in my summer intensive in philanthropy at New York University. Aside from learning about planned giving, nonprofit financial statements, development planning, and ethics from some of the most highly credentialed figures in the world of US philanthropy, one unexpected highlight has been to relax during our designated lunch hour, across the street from class, in Bryant Park.
Nestled between the New York Public Library and Avenue of the Americas at 42nd Street, the park is a bustling oasis. Its central green lawn is hallowed ground, surrounded on all sides by tourists and local office workers lolling in the dark green chairs provided, park maintenance staff keeping the whole place tidy at a slavish hourly rate, and people selling one thing or another. (Since Monday I’ve been offered salvation, a palm reading, and a date, but not all by the same person.)
Yesterday the city’s oppressive humidity vanished, leaving us with pure dry sunshine. Walking the two blocks east to Grand Central Station to catch my train back to Brooklyn, I could not take my eyes off the gleaming gargoyles atop the Chrysler Building – they seemed to have been polished by the sun for the occasion – and reminded myself how amazing it was that I was living in New York at all.