Perhaps everything that can be said about New York has already been said. It’s a city that will break your heart and also open it; it’s a city that will bring exactly what you don’t expect to lay at your bare and human feet. It is a city that is more than a city, and also – somehow – less than a town you might someday call home.
At least that’s how I see it.
I have never wanted to live in New York. I can see its charm, and I can certainly feel its magic: when I’m in the city, I feel inspired. I want to tap into something wild, deep inside of me, that exists only in secret (and is perhaps a little bit frightening, in just the right light). I want to be someone colorful and vivid when I am in New York; I want to find the restaurants and bars and cocktails and ingénues that no one else has found. I want to come home with stories of celebrity run-ins and amazing desserts made with basil and rooftop bars at sunset and…
The thing is, though, that while New York has been all of these things for me, the truth is that I inevitably feel like I have somehow fallen short. I make the most of the city, yet I feel it wanting more from me. Not only should I be happy, I should be manic. Not only should I be self-assured, I should be self-centered. Not only should I be grateful, I should be effusive. Not only should I like, I should love.
All of that is well and good. The city deserves its demands; it’s New York, after all. It never sleeps; and you can have anything you want, anytime; and people come here to be who they really are; and the imagination, determination, and castration that fuels the city is stunning. There is everything here: businessmen who offer their umbrellas in a storm, preschoolers ice skating in matching helmets and jerseys, cashiers chatting about a sleepless night with toddlers, heroin-skinny women smoking cigarettes under a cloudless sky. Everything and nothing all at once.
Because of all of this, I know there is a place for me. I can wear anything, say anything, do anything, and all is accepted. But the fact that people barely blink an eye makes me a bit wary. With so many people moving in so many directions, all the time, I wonder if people take the time to notice each other. Do New Yorkers look over at each other, register their similarities and differences, and say, oh! Here you are, as if sharing this space is something special? Or is it more of a glance, a passing thing, waiting for proof of significance to arrive?
New York: it’s all been said, yet somehow, the city still remains wholly new, every single time I visit. I am always happy to be here. And I am always ready to go home, where I will wonder about it all over again.