To my city,
I wake up every morning to your streets, your blocks, your avenues. I fall asleep to passing cars, loud neighbors, and the occasional alarm. These are my New York lullabies. I wake to the decision of coffee. Shall I go downstairs to my local joint or pick it up from the man in the cart along the way? What about my breakfast? Bagel guy, everyday brunch, a handful of almonds so I don’t feel bad when I watch the models walk past me. New York is filled with decisions, opportunity, options though most of us have found routine in our jobs, our lives, our favorite spots, and what we consider the “must go to” places.
Daily, my feet feel tired from the pavement they’re forced to power walk. Power walking because that is the New York pace. At least, it’s the pace when you are trying to run that errand before work or really do need to make it to that place before it closes to get that thing that you really need. The New York pace is a speed in which can’t be defined but you notice when walking the streets. There are the New Yorkers and there are the tourists. This changes on the weekends, of course, the New York pace becomes a stroll. So there are the strollers and there are the tourists.
My body grows sluggish from train transfers. Take the F to West 4th, get off and run up to the top platform, take the E. Hope nothing is under construction or being rerouted. Be thankful for the major subway transfer hubs (like Times Square, Grand Central, Atlantic Ave) and that both the L and the shuttle exist. Remind yourself that the 7 still exists and goes across town. My body gets anxious from being stuffed in metal moving boxes. I fight the feeling. Though there is no fighting the anxiety or annoyance at 5:30 when you are actually sardines in a can. I feel exhausted someone pulls the emergency break and you are only partially pulled into the station so they can’t open the doors. Say goodbye to 20 minutes of your day because that is just New York and accept that you’re having Ramen noodles or ordering something off Seamless for dinner. Some days the underground feels dehumanizing. No one looks at each other, everyone is plugged into head phones, or reading emails that they have no network service to reply with. But then suddenly, you lock eyes with a person and you both give your best half smile. That millisecond of human contact completely changes your experience. Then there are the community experiences. An adorably outspoken child comes on. “Mommy, why did that lady shave part of her head?” Suddenly, everyone is smiling and this family is on show. The mother replies, “I’m not sure, honey. She likes the way it looks”. The child, “Cool. Can I do it?” The train is filled with a small about of glee. We are no longer faceless, robots moving from point A to point B. We are human again.
I will always, always try to justify the purchase of a cab ride. I want it. It feels good. It’s warm in the winter and you can get the car ride breeze in the summer. I can climb in and arrive. I will always question the driver’s ability to not get into an accident, his temper on the road, his want to make conversation with you, and whether or not he is on the phone or mumbling to you. 8 out of 10 times I will hate his music and be thankful that the screen in the back is playing a Jimmy Fallon clip so I can drown it out.
Some days I can walk 40 blocks just to enjoy you New York and some days, I can’t manage to get my laundry to the wash and fold a block away. Yes, it is only a block away. New York, you make me fortunate enough to have everything I need at my finger tips. I can get my grocery within 10 blocks, my morning coffee within 1 block, a sweet snack within 2, a drink with 2, and my dinner choices are endless. If you were a woman and I was a man and this was a clear love letter then I would tell you that I could spend my entire life discovering more things that I love about your body. New York, I could never see all of you. I could never see every restaurant, every neighborhood, every street, every block, every park, every apartment, every moment. That is what is so unbelievably beautiful about you. I will always feel that I know you but I will never truly know you. There is so much of you that you share but I can only share in so much of you. You are always changing. One thing comes in another goes out. I’ll grow and I’ll change but it may not happen together. I may not see where you change but you will definitely see me. You’ll see me get older as you already have. You’ll see me change jobs. You’ll see me eat at different places and some places more than once. You’ll see me fall in love. You’ll see my heart get broken. You’ll see me cheat on you with Paris, London, and the rest of the world but you’ll always welcome me back into your arms. I’ll move all over you. I’ll go from the Upper East Side, to the Lower East Side, to West Village, to Brooklyn. I hope you see my apartments get bigger. I hope you see me with a townhouse with a garden. I hope you see the next generation of me and you can love them as much as you have loved me.
This isn’t the say our relationship has always been easy. Some of my biggest heart breaks have happened from you, New York. You let everyone in and unfortunately, not all of those people are good people. New York, you harden people. You make people forget about love and focus on work. You make them feel like they have something to prove. You hurry them. You inconvenience them. You make them feel that they need status, or money, or fame when everything they actually need you’ve already given them. You can make people lose there mind here. They can be invisible here. They can be nobody here. In the summer, the concrete reflects the most unpleasant impenetrable heat and the trash reeks. In the winter, you’re a wind tunnel and the dullest gray I’ve ever seen. You depress me. But you’re so beautiful.
New York, you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The skyscrapers lit at night tell me you’re magnificent. Central Park tells me you love us all as I picnic and I feel the sun and the grass between my toes. TriBeCa tells me that you are changing and once something else. The West Village tells me you want to nourish me with the tastiest things. The Lower East Side tells me you want to let lose and have some fun with me. Soho tells me you want to clothe me and 5th and Madison avenues tell me you want better things for me. You’re constantly telling me that you want me to strive for more. You’re constantly telling me you want me to be more. Your churches, your homeless, your soup kitchens, tell me you want me to give more. Sitting and people watching with you reminds me that I should love more.
There is something about you. It can not be defined: it’s the open fire hydrants that little kids run through on summer days, the ice skating rinks in the winter, it’s the art museums, the culture, the cobble stone, the brick, the 4 am eats, the sunsets on The Highline, the barking from the dog parks, the sound of stilettos on the pavement, it’s Frank Sinatra, it’s Marilyn’s dress floating up, it’s the gridlock, the Brooklyn Bridge, the small apartments, the fear of bed bugs, Coney Island, Spanish Harlem, Jamaica Queens, it’s Jay-Z, the Yankess (mostly Jeter), The Opera house, Fashion Week, Battery Park, the endless history, the feeling that you are a part of something way bigger than yourself, the ceiling at Grand Central Station, the dinosaur bones at The Museum of Natural History, Fleet Week, Andy Warhol, sex, Bergdorf Goodman, The Intrepid, The Freedom Tower, Broadway, the dreamers, the non-believers, the incredulous, the temerarious. It’s that feeling that you are utterly alone until you really need something or something happens and you realize that you are in a city full of people hoping to love other people. But I think what makes you the most beautiful is that you make everyone feel so utterly terrified but so impossibly in love all at the same time.
So with this I say, no matter where I travel or live, you will always be my home. I am forever yours, New York.