Downtown, early morning, all alone. Ten stories up, staring across the Hudson River, at nothing. My eyes filled with tears.

***

Looking across the Harlem River from the taxi cab window, I was rapt by the twilight skyline of Manhattan. The sight of the bejeweled city stirred memories of Gershwin melodies, gangster stories, and scenes from The Naked City and On the Waterfront.

I was coming to New York for a job interview the following day with an architect-engineering firm. As a 22-year-old college senior, the thought of launching my career in the cultural hub of the world—a town I had experienced through films and music—was gripping.

After checking in to the Statler-Hilton, I made the two-block jaunt to the Empire State building. From a quarter mile up, the neon carpet that stretched across the pulsing landscape below was spellbinding. "Tomorrow," I thought, "I want to do well.

Six months later, I was married and living and working in New York City. But as a new husband, the town, with its endless rows of concrete monoliths, queues of horn-blowing yellow cabs, nauseating subway smells and bus fumes, and throngs of strange-looking, strange-speaking people, seemed much different than the city that had enchanted me a few months ago as an unmarried student. Coming from the Deep South, real life in the "city that never sleeps" felt as foreign to me and Joanne, as it was to the prince and princess of Andalasia.

Over the next year and a half, we adjusted the peculiarities of the City and grew to appreciate and enjoy the diversity of its people and culture. I was establishing myself as an engineer in the commercial nuclear industry and Joanne was working with an international medical research company. On the weekends, we were off to the museums, galleries, restaurants, theaters, block festivals, Long Island, doing the things that childless, young married couples do. We were loving life and loving each other, and I was feeling at home. Until that morning... Continue reading here.