Not Just in the Movies

Tonight I found myself on a Manhattan rooftop–my Manhattan rooftop–listening to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. I found myself longing for the New York City you see in movies–that unrealistic, hyper-romantic, spontaneously-delicious, completely-nonsensical-but-eternally-memorable Manhattan.

Where is that New York? Is it all a fantasy? Does it only come alive when well-scripted, desperately-incompatible-but-desperately-in-love characters cross paths in Central Park in a film? Is it only born when Ella or Billie are singing in the background while two strangers find their lives inconveniently intertwined?

I tried really hard to remember the first time I said “I love you” in the Village and what it felt like. I tried to remember the first time I danced on a Lower East Side rooftop, the first time I ran in the rain in SoHo and didn’t even realize I was getting wet. I tried to remember my first night at an outdoor Chelsea wine bar looking into eyes that made me ridiculously nervous in the best possible way. I tried to remember an unexpected Manhattan smile that managed to light up my face in an unexpected way.

Then I stood up and looked down at the city. There it was, a little bit of the Manhattan I’d been searching for. Yeah, we’d met before. And not just in the movies.

Billie and Ella sure help the ambiance. Well-scripted lines surely make things a little more perfect.

But it’s the eyes you see things with that give them their magic.

Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila

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