Day 262

Walking across Central Park is a lot like walking in Soho now that the Twin Towers are gone. I used to use the Towers as a compass point.  No need for the North Star when those landmarks were visible from anywhere, marking due South.

But ever since the Towers fell, I find myself easily disoriented downtown as soon as I’m off the grid or away from a major avenue. Often I am reduced to asking something innocuous, like “is Broadway this way?” so that I can orient myself without looking like an absolute loser. It’s funny, because Frank told me the most common question he gets from tourists (read – people with accents and guidebooks) in midtown is “Which way is the Hudson River?” I guess everybody’s trying to look like they know where they’re going in NYC. But that’s another story.

I hate being disoriented below West 4th Street almost as much as I hate being disoriented in Central Park, above 72nd Street.

It should be easy to walk across the park from the West to East side or visa versa without getting lost: walk away from the buildings behind you, and go toward those in front of you.

And it would be easy if Central Park didn’t dip in the middle — a pretty deep valley, really — and the sidewalks wind and curve in no relation to the road. A few years ago I was showing a visitor from France across the park. It turned dark, and started to rain. We kept our spirits high, and hurried toward the buildings as soon as I saw them…only to find ourselves back on the West side, where we’d started.

Today when I walked through Central Park I was determined to enjoy the walk without getting lost. I had a lunch date uptown, and a library book in my hand. I entered around East 72 Street, and took a seat beside the Alice in Wonderland statue, where I watched kids of all ages — from toddler to teen — climbing up and scrambling around Alice and her friends.

From there I went North-West-East-South-West-and-North again. I almost got lost. But then I saw the Belvedere Castle and soon spied the lovely twin spires of the San Remo Apartment towers reaching above the trees, and I knew I’d made it across town without getting lost. Which felt like something of an accomplishment, even if it shouldn’t have!

I celebrated by having lunch with Jenny at PicNic on Broadway and 101st Street. Their Lyon Salad is yummy, if you’re up that way you should try it.