The second date I’d ever gone on in my entire life was to the MET Museum at night. I met my date on the steps at sundown and we took in the Turner Exhibit. I’d been to the MET dozens of times before that date, but it’d never seemed as magical as it did then.
It took two years for me to return to the MET in the evening. Another date, another guy, and in the winter season. Despite the relationship being a flop, we had a blast that night. I was the main character in a choose-your-adventure book, leading to ancient Egypt and the drawing rooms of France. I still look back on it fondly.
A week ago I met an art historian, and I suggested going to the MET on a Saturday night. You’d think I was making a last-minute trip to a foreign country, I spent the whole day smiling and anticipating how much fun I’d have.
I never go the MET without a goal in mind. My date and I veered through the lobby and straight to the Temple of Dendur by default, but I held up my hands in protest. “We have to make a plan,” I said. “We have to have a goal. The first thing we have to do is see Balthus.” I was referencing my favorite French painter, and my date nodded.
“We have to see some Vermeer,” he said, knowing I hadn’t seen any of them in the permanent collection.
“Deal,” I said.
We got ourselves lost for a bit, and finally ended up in the Balthus exhibit. He nodded as I pointed to him all my favorites. We then wove around European art. When we landed on Vermeer an hour later I was a little relieved. I still wanted to see my second favorite space in the American wing.
The last stop was drinks on the roof. I sipped a Lemoncello cocktail leaned on the balcony edge looking at the skyline at 59th street and beyond.
“When we were in Dendur,” I said, referring to a moment we had watching a random beat-boxer performance taking place in the hall, “I had an ‘I love New York moment.’ I get them sometimes. I don’t know, it was just so beautiful in there. All the statues were up-lit and there was this huge crowd. And we just stumbled upon some guy performing just out of nowhere. And that big glass wall, you can see the stars outside it.”
My date nodded.
“Can you believe we made this,” he said, pointing to the city beyond us. I could name all the skyscrapers. They were all like little memories. I could see The Helmsley, my parents’ hotel of choice in the city, I could see Time Warner Center and the Mandarin Hotel. I spotted The Plaza, Chrysler and elsewhere, I could feel in my heart the connections.
“It’s something,” I said, knowing it would be silly to even try to explain the way I was feeling. A lot of my love for New York comes from moments that I can’t describe. I write as much as I can about them, but I can never get the tone just right.
Down below in Central Park, a John Mayer concert was playing loud enough to hear it from the MET roof. To my left a couple was making out (without coming up for air in the last hour that we were up there), a group of tourists were Yelping steakhouses and couples whispered in the dark on benches and everyone wanted flash photos with the skyline. I could have stayed there forever.
My date had friends to meet in Brooklyn, so we parted ways in my neighborhood and I danced down my block to the doorstep having felt that I’d had the best Saturday in a long time. There are hopes of many more to come.