In March 2014, I published a post – Let’s Go Floral – here on vivalaViv. 16 years later after my first trip to the U.S., I returned to New York City. During that visit I tried to re-channel the spirits of Joseph’s ‘living well, is the best revenge’, and here’s how it went…
Sunday the 17th of September, 2017
Having read my Let’s Go Floral post on vivalaViv, Kent understood my desire to revisit this day-after-9/11 personal memory – including Joseph’s motto behind it. While no one in their right mind would want to relive the shock of those terrible days; I had made a friend during those very strange times. I wished to re-imagine the meeting that took place on the 12th of September, on the same day, all these years later. This time, however, a lineup of approaching hurricanes such as Hurricane Maria, Jose, and Irma caused a delay. Then the next question I had not yet solved was, how do we showcase positive spirits and being a tourist in Central Park?
I decided the answer might just be in the form of a Central Park horse-drawn carriage ride. Not only is it an iconic tourist activity, it also ties in closely with Central Park. Before the photoshoot, Kent being Kent hired a City Cycle and rode down to Central Park for location scouting. He eventually found a lovely spot and was happy with what he saw. Meanwhile, I selected a floral dress, a totally different one from my Plein Sud number 16 years hence. And I added a cardigan and a Panama hat for my new look.
On Sunday the 17th, with good weather, we could finally do our shoot. But little did we know that it was the day the still relatively new President Trump had returned to New York City. Scheduled from 18th to 20th were United Nations General Assembly meetings and as we walked through Midtown to the park, police activity was everywhere! Dump truck after dump truck loaded mountain high with sand were parked out front of various locations in Manhattan, including Trump Tower. Police cordons, secret service men everywhere – so clean-cut and tidy and same-same – even we could spot them! But our photoshoot must go on simply because we had very few days left in America.
The first part of our mission that day was to find a perfect horse and an equally photogenic carriage… if we were lucky enough. Kent and I searched by looping the Grand Army Plaza where the horse-drawn carriages assemble a little like a taxi rank. We didn’t see anything we fancied at first. What we did spot were some paired-off ‘undercover’ agents standing by in their black T-shirts, their visible earbuds, and their obviously well-trained dogs. No doubt The Plaza hotel on the corner had some very important guests. The irony was, 16 years later, on the day I tried to re-channel my personal diary on the day after 9/11 attacks; the atmosphere surrounding me felt strangely similar to that other high alerted day I still remembered.
Kent and I walked another loop of the Plaza trying our luck, and another loop and another… and then we saw Bruno.
Bruno, tall, handsome and well dressed. This white horse first caught my eye with his ornate white plumed headpiece. His silver-studded leather harness accented with red pads matched my red, white and black ensemble. The carriage itself, gorgeous with red velvet seats and decorated with romantic red and white roses. Without a doubt in mind, Kent and I quickly walked up to his master, a smartly dressed Italian American (of course!) and the rest? I will let this image do the talking. If ‘living well is the best revenge’ is the motto from Joseph, we hope this photograph delivers his message.
September 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I hope we can each find solace in practicing our own version of ‘living well’, which is well-being. Many thanks to Kent who has delivered lovely portraits of me to help me re-tell this tale. Simply click here to view the full set of photographs on White Caviar Life.