Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New York City: The Fickle Lover

Today I am writing to you from the Rose Reading Room of the New York Public Library. It is a vast expanse of architectural bliss, roughly the length of a football field, which houses over forty thousand volumes of dictionaries, biographies, encyclopedias, and indexes. For its bright windows and hushed atmosphere, it is a quintessential hotspot for writers in New York City.

I took this from a pamphlet at the library. It would seem I am in good company. I mean, TYRA comes here.
Right now I have a Diet Dr. Pepper and a bag of salt and vinegar chips that are burning a hole through my backpack, but I don't think I'm allowed to eat or drink in here. That's really my only complaint though.

Anyway, I'm writing from this writers' paradise because it seemed like the most fitting place to reflect on my last year here in New York City. As I mentioned in a previous post, as of Sunday, Daniel and I have now officially lived in this crazy, beautiful town for one year. It has been arguably the best year of my life, and I owe a lot of that to grand buildings like the one I am sitting in right now. I also owe a lot of it to delayed trains, crazy cat ladies, and spoiled bodega milk.

One of the bodegas in our neighborhood where we consistently buy spoiled milk. Via

Allow me to explain.

New York City is a lover with little reciprocation. She is fickle. You are the one who does the falling in love, not her. Many say that New York calls to them, but she doesn't. She has better things to do. It's you that does all of the loving, all of the calling, all of the seeking. You are the one who becomes enamored of her skyline and her spirit. You are the one who says she's perfect when she pushes you down in a crowded subway terminal or gives you food poisoning at a restaurant with a C health rating. You watch her from afar, even as far away as Austin, Texas, and you think to yourself, does she even know I exist?

This is the New York experience. It is a perfect combination of getting kicked in the ass and having the most unbelievably special moments of your life. I've gone down into the creepiest bar basement to listen to a world class jazz singer. My rent has doubled, maybe tripled from my rent in Texas, but I am a short walk away from Prospect Park. I've ridden the subway with my face in some teenager's armpit, but afterwards I had a religious experience at the Met.

"This will all be worth it when I see the Victorian Interiors exhibit" Via
Loving this city is like having a very specific kind of amnesia. It's the same amnesia that exists in marriage, actually, only in marriage you call it "forgiveness." Every day I wake up to a city that spat on me only one day previously, and I tell her she's beautiful.

Because she is. Even those moments where I feel kicked around by New York have been blessings in hindsight. I have grown in patience in ways that I never would have expected. A lot of people assume that New Yorkers are the world's most impatient humans, and in some ways, that's true. People who make the decision to move to this city are often the kinds of people who could not stand to wait another day to start being the person they were made to be. They know what they want. They have to have it.

But really, you can't live in a city like this without developing some kind of system of patience in your life. I don't think I had one before moving here, but I sure as hell do now.

Now when I walk down the street and some random man tells me that I'm looking good enough to eat, I don't cower in disgust or even quicken my pace. I don't go on some long-winded rant about how objected I feel. I simply laugh and say, "No, thank you!" and go about my merry way. This city teaches you awesome things like that. Your wit sharpens and your resolve thickens. 

No, thank you!
But you don't have to move to New York City to learn lessons like these. In fact, if you are not in love with the idea of it, please don't. This city will turn you into a troll. I have seen such a troll. She rides the B Train in the afternoon.

But this is how I was supposed to learn these lessons, and for that, I am forever grateful to my fickle lover. New York City never needed me, but I needed her, and every now and then she throws me a bone. For instance...

There is this moment when riding the Q train where it emerges from its tunnel onto the Manhattan bridge. It is a feeling similar to holding your breath underwater and then suddenly coming up for air. The windows become a display of some of New York's most important landmarks: the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, which stand atop a glittering East River. The train allows its passengers to ingest this sight for a mere two minutes before plummeting back down into the dark tunnel, as quickly as it emerged.

The first time I saw this, I vowed that the day this sight became mundane would be my last day in New York City. I have ridden across the Manhattan bridge twice a day, almost every day throughout this entire year, and it has yet to disappoint. I guess I'll stick around.

Fellow New Yorkers, do these feelings ring a bell? How would you describe your love for this city?

1 comment:

  1. Almost makes me want to leave Texas...but on second thought, married to your dad...I don't think it's in the cards!


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