Slipping on a pair of my favorite shoes, snuggling up in a threadbare t-shirt that the Husband has had since college, holding a cup of coffee while watching flames dance in a fireplace, laughing with an old friend, taking that first bite of buttered homemade bread, landing in your own bed after days of traveling; there’s solace in the simple things, the familiar, the comfortable.
New York City is not a comfortable place to be. Horns blare, traffic races, people jostle for space on the sidewalk. And then there’s the “city juice”, as I call it; being dripped on from air conditioning units, splashed by puddles, and rubbing sweaty arms with total strangers passing at a crosswalk. For most of the day, I long for the next opportunity to shower.
You can feel a little cramped in our country’s largest city. Apartments, grocery stores, restrooms, restaurants; they’re all tiny. The waiter at one of my favorite restaurants had to pull the table out in order for me to squeeze into a window seat, and then he pinned me in as if the table were a highchair tray. And the temperature of a so-called “air conditioned restaurant”? Definitely not comfortable.
But once you accept the discomforts of the city, the many comforts stand out and make you extremely grateful.
There’s comfort in knowing that there is order amidst the chaos. After 42nd Street comes 43rd street. Avenues run north and south. Subways operate on schedules. And there’s even order as pedestrians move on the street with a rhythmic corporate energy that ebbs and flows between intersections. The masses almost function as one organism, knowing when to stop and when to proceed just seconds before the traffic light changes.
On the 4th of July, the heat was extremely uncomfortable. We spread out a blanket on the hot asphalt to watch the fireworks over the Hudson. The heat that we felt through that blanket almost made it not worth sitting down. But look at the sky that we watched as it turned from day to dusk, the first patriotic explosion just moments away.
There was comfort in walking through the hot, sticky city with friends that we’ve known for over 20 years. Sharing memories and catching up with someone you’ve known since you were four is a rare treasure.
Leaving navigation to the city experts, we could enjoy the neighborhood feel of a corner of the world so incredibly different than the neighborhoods in which we grew up.
And then there’s the comfort of a familiar place.
Every time we come to the the City, we eat lunch at Risoterria. My very first experience there was a month after my diagnosis. I had just spent four weeks mourning the loss of every glutenous food that I loved, and most of those weeks were spent feeling more hungry than satisfied. Risotteria has a special place in my heart, because it was a reprieve from the drought that I had just come through. I was presented with paninis, pizza, salad, pasta, and baked goods that were completely safe for me to eat. And, as you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed every last bite.
They even served gluten-free breadsticks upon seating us. Not by special request,
but for everyone.
I love that the Husband always orders gluten-free even though he doesn’t need to. He does it so that we can enjoy sampling off each others’ plate just like every other couple. This time was no different, and we each ordered paninis.
The chicken breast panini with peppers and olive puree was my favorite.
Until I tried the Husband’s turkey breast with portobello mushrooms and dried tomatoes.
There was nothing comfortable about the temperature of the tiny dining room or the fact that I was literally elbow to elbow with complete strangers. But eating at Risotteria brought a comfort like going home for Christmas. I knew exactly what to expect, I was well-cared for, and the food was exactly as I remembered it.
A vast array of baked goods tempted us for dessert. In the past, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed their cupcakes and cookies.
But this time, we had new territory to explore. I’ll show you what city gem we found next.