Two years ago I moved from the north part of the Upper East Side to the heart of the Upper East Side further south. I imagined that my weekends would be as consistent as they always are: a bus ride to the Upper West Side or a train ride to Soho and points south. I know those neighborhoods; I know the spots I like to go to, my walking paths are very well defined and pleasant. I joked with my friends the second I moved to the real Upper East Side that they should slap me when I start talking through my nose and making reservations at Nello’s. They promised me they would.
Fast forward two years later and The Upper East Side has suddenly grown on me. I spent the last two weekends only on the neighborhood: eating, walking, day dreaming and oogling at a strangers ATM receipt that read a checking account balance of $51,000—so UES. I now have a coffee shop that feels like mine, and a wine store where I’m on a first name basis with the shop keepers (Walter and Julie!) and have a neighborhood bar (J. Bird). For my birthday I solidified my ridiculous Upper East Side-ness by buying a pair of French Sole flats.
My aunt lives about 20 blocks north, and last weekend we brunched at my favorite spot, Untitled at the Whitney. We slid into a window seat flooded with light. I’m obsessed with the space, I’m obsessed with the burgundy chairs, the plates, the white china and the modern glasses they present their coffee and hot water for tea. I hadn’t seen my aunt in almost a month, so we leaned with our elbows on the table, and caught up. The noise level is very civil there, only a small undercurrent of proper conversations broken by subdued laughs. My aunt had cheese grits with poached eggs, pork belly and greens (so “in”), and I the standard pancakes that I’d been craving for awhile. They make the best ones at Untitled.
It’s coming upon fall in New York. My aunt and I shivered down the street after brunch and back to her apartment to give my great aunt a hug, followed by light shopping and my aunt’s first Lauderee macarons. We took them to a bench at Central Park, the Frick in direct view. I stretched my legs out on the cushion of fall leaves and exhaled. It had been a good day.
“I’m really starting to like it over here,” I said to my aunt. “I’m starting to find my places.”
If my aunt could live anywhere, she always said she’d live on the Upper West Side. So I quickly assured her that I wasn’t ready to confess my love to the East like I had also to the West side. But I’m getting there.