New York City Nightlight: A Story
I wasn’t prepared for the cold. I was ready for everything else: The crowds, the furious honking of congested traffic, the wild commute that involved far too many stops, and even the attitudes that might show themselves when I made a wrong move, especially on the subway. I was even prepared for brilliant things, for the gorgeous tree in Rockefeller Center, the beauty of the lights in every storefront, the softly falling snow that would surely turn everything into a wonderland. But I wasn’t ready for the cold.
Winter in New York
It cut like a knife when I turned the corner near the hotel, searing through me with such cold force that it left me gasping. I clutched my coat tighter on that walk, tighter and tighter, even as my feet began to feel like blocks of ice. This was no gentle snow — this was an insane flurry of tiny little daggers that speared every uncovered sliver of skin. They say Chicago is the Windy City, but they have obviously never been in New York City when a good snowstorm was blowing in!
I have never been more happy to step in out of the cold.
The hotel was opulent, but not over the top — just the way I always thought of New York City. There were plush chairs in the lobby, obviously antiques but not the kind of ancient that made you afraid to sit down. The lights were low — this was a romantic time, after all — and the tiny white twinkling lights that heralded the season were everywhere, lighting the way to the elevator. I went straight for my room on the 36th floor, staring at my reddened face in the mirror of the elevator as the big box ascended.
Opulence is alive and well
And then, the room. Opulence was alive and well here. I gratefully dropped my coat onto a chaise lounge that waited right there, as though for that very purpose. The tables were topped with glass. The bed was one of those that you only find in the best of hotel rooms, impossibly perfect for sleeping, a king-size that was even more than that, somehow, with all those pillows and layers of comfortable cottons and satins. But the couch was what caught my eye. A behemoth of a thing, it was the focal point of the room, a stately monster on four sturdy wooden legs that sat right underneath the wide window.
There was even a throw on the couch, casually tossed there, as though it had been left by a previous visitor and forgotten. It was so casually placed, in fact, that it was obvious housekeeping had put it there.
Smiling, I slipped it over my shoulders and sat down on the ornate couch, running my hand over the soft fabric and thinking about all the things I had seen that day: The tree lit up with thousands of tiny pinpoints of light, the man who had glared at me when I was too slow to get on the subway train, the shopkeeper who had laughed with a voice so loud it almost hurt, the snow that blanketed everything and made even the busy traffic seem quieter, hushed by a robe of white.
And then I looked up.
Right outside the window was the Chrysler Building, almost directly in the center of my line of vision. Tonight it was lit up, the spires shouting out the joy of the season in icy blue and white. Suddenly inspired, I ran through the room and turned off all the lights, until the only illumination came from the building outside the window. It was more than enough to light up the whole room, bathing it with a cool light that seemed somehow warm.
That’s how I spent my first night in New York City. I would face the snow and wind and busy sidewalks again tomorrow, but for tonight, I would fall asleep to the gentle glow of the city’s nightlight.
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