Taking A Second Look. . . Up!

Every other Tuesday is #LetsBlogOff day, when participating bloggers write posts on the same pre-determined subject. Today’s topic: “Taking a Second Look.” Feel free to join in, by the way: it’s all explained here: http://www.letsblogoff.com.

The thing about New York is that you have to remember to look up from time to time. Everybody knows this, but still we tend to look straight ahead or slightly down, so determined are we to cut a path, to stake a claim — to a swath of sidewalk, to our place in the world. In a city so stuffed with distractions, you have to narrow your focus or you’ll never get anywhere. But looking up is essential, for that’s where the gargoyles are, the Art Deco details, the inexplicable romance of the water towers. Up is where the clouds are, where the stars are, and where our heads should be at least some of the time.

I’ve lived in my current home for nine years now, and estimate that I’ve walked by one particular nearby building about 1000 times (a rough guess, but it’ll do). Here’s a reasonable approximation of how I normally see this building when I’m rushing from here to there or back again:

The other night my romantic husband sat me down on a bench across the street from that building for no good reason other than that he wanted to extend the nice evening that was ending what for him had been a stressful day, and just sit, together, in the night. I’ve passed this bench about as many times as that building. Sitting there, for the first time, I saw everything from a slightly different perspective. The bike rack, the Thai restaurant, my romantic husband. Looking up, I saw something I’d never seen at all before: the charmingly-angled second floor facade of an otherwise nondescript building.

And so I saw the charmingly angled building. So what? It’s hardly architecturally significant; at most I suppose it qualifies as cute. And yet it tickles my fancy. And for some unanswerable, ephemeral reason — maybe for no reason, really — my life seemed the smallest bit better for sitting on that bench with my romantic husband, drawing out the evening just a little longer, looking at the shiny moon, feeling the air while I wasn’t moving through it. Better for the act of noticing, and for the things I noticed.

There’s so much to see when you look up. . .

7 Responses to Taking A Second Look. . . Up!

  1. L says:

    i love those moments that are “better for the act of noticing” and your moment is so wonderfully described and related. I think I shall have to take a walk downtown tonight and snuggle in for a quiet moment with my own romantic husband.

  2. Sometimes Andrea, the places, and sights we take for grant are actually the special ones. It just takes something or someone to make us see them.

  3. Joe Freenor says:

    Actually, I suppose if you get the right company you often find yourself seeing things you’ve never seen before. In fact, over the years, I’ve seen value in a cup of coffee that were never there before I started sharing the morning coffee with my wife! Make that romantic wife—just to keep in step here!

  4. I live in a neighborhood that was generally built around 1900. It’s fascinating walking around and looking at the small bits of original ornament that still exist on some of the houses. One day, I noticed that a lot of the houses that are similarly styled to mine have a transom window over the front door. My house didn’t. I had a hunch that there had been one so I removed the drywall above my door to find the trim and opening where a window had been. We have since reopened that wall and have a piece of stained glass there that brightens my day whenever I see it. All because I stopped to look around. Thanks for your story!

  5. Maxine Martin says:

    Thanks, Andrea! It’s funny–lately I’ve been thinking about how transient everything is. I was actually talking to my Mom today about how we share great moments with people only to have them go so quickly. Some of my family and I just got through three big events in our home-a Halloween party, Thanksgiving, and then a Christmas gathering last weekend.

    A lot of work and preparation went into these wonderful events beforehand. And then ZOOP! They came and went.

    I was talking to my Mom about these moments with people and how whenever we expect to duplicate them, they can never be the same. That first time I saw Disneyland and times like that.

    I understand, though, that that’s what makes life so grand. Yes, it’s fleeting but it’s important to take in those moments. So, thanks for sharing.

  6. You have to look up in Sicily, too or you miss the balcony artwork. Love that angled building.

  7. Andrea,

    We often miss things right in front of us because we are rushing ahead to the next moment, the next task at hand rather than living fully in the present moment. It’s amazing what we can see if we stop peering around the corner or staring into the rear view mirror. Keep your gaze in the present, and more moments like this will happen to find you.

    Great post!!


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