Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Not Over It

Years ago, bonfireside, my cousin, Mike, made a crack about hating New York and said that no one could really experience the city if they didn't make at least $40,000 a year. Having recently experienced the city in a pretty real way for under $15,000 in a year I went off on him. Though we've never spoken of it, I've been embarrassed by my outburst ever since.

The thing is, New York was the first place I ever went that felt like putting on a perfect pair of shoes. From the very beginning, despite being frightened, it was clear that I could do anything I wanted. So I did.

Between our fireside chat and now Mike has done his best to leave New York. He's strayed far and wide time and again but it never sticks. They belong together. They'll never get married but they'll live together for as long as possible and wherever he goes they'll be in love forever. He gets it now. I don't know whether my outburst had anything to do with it. I doubt that it did and it really doesn't matter.

I know that New York is tough. Did you not read the part about under $15,000 on year? It's true, she'll kick your ass when you need it but she'll also hold you in the palm of her warm hand and make you feel like the luckiest person on earth just to be breathing and seeing and hearing all that she has to offer. One of the best moments I had this year was seeing the look on MGirl's face after her first day navigating this city by herself. She was proud of herself and awed by what she saw and full of potential topped with tired feel. If you can't understand how beautiful that look is? Well, actually I get that.

I'll be honest, why not, this is my space. In my head I understand why you live where you live and why you like it. My heart, though, isn't so polite. I've lived in London, in New England and in the mid west. They're fine, lovely, but, even when I was doing what I loved for a living, I was dying a little bit every day. I could never just be who I was and know that was OK. There was never enough room to breathe. You don't have to agree with me. You don't have to believe me, even. You do, however, have to respect my choice and my feelings. Especially when you're playing over here in my public swimming pool.

Last week someone disparaged me, people like me and New York City in the comments for a post I meant to be relatively light hearted. In one sentence it was skillfully and clearly implied that I, and those like me, are foolish and deluded to love to live in New York City. I was pissed and I responded briefly but honestly to that effect. Then I went out and had such a perfectly glorious New York day that I thought, "What do I need to be angry for, I live in New York fucking City, I'm enjoying myself too much to be pissed." I thought I was over it.

Then tonight I had an annoying experience. The details were NYC-specific but the generalities could have appeared anywhere; commute, stupid people, late, cold, lather, rinse, repeat. As I trudged home doing my stupid exercise for my stupid weight loss I was crafting a delightfully scathing post that would have had the MTA quivering in their tunnels. My inner censor was logging over time, though. I kept trying to paint the edges as rosy or come up with a "but really" and I didn't, at first, understand why.

I wasn't over that slight from last week. I don't feel comfortable posting anything negative about New York City because I don't want this commenter, or anyone else, responding negatively about my home. I didn't want to give them any sort of opening. It's only natural to defend someone that has given me so much. This is my space, though, and I hate feeling censored in it, even when I'm the one doing the censoring.

I'll get over it...well, look what happened with Mike, maybe I won't.


  1. I totally get what you're saying here, though I do have to admit that it did take me a while to understand the connection you have to NYC. That was MY deal, though - MY recognition that it wouldn't be a good place for ME. You're not me - nor are you anyone else but YOU - and you're the BEST you when you're firmly and gloriously rooted in this city. Because I love you so much, and because I recognize that you belong there, I not only respect your choice and your feelings, I celebrate them.

    You'll notice that now I ask you when you're GOING home, not when you're COMING home...

  2. I get that.
    Here's how to make me hold a grudge against you forever...

    Chrome: I'm from Oklahoma.

    New Person Who Thinks They're Funny: Oh. I'm sorry.

    Chrome: What? Did you really? That's not funny. You are not funny. That is my home. Shut up. I hate you. I'm never talking to you again. Go away. No, really. I hate you.

    Most of that is usually said in my head, but I can throw a look, so I'm sure they often get the point.

    By the way...I get that about NYC, too. Just not as strongly as you do.

  3. I feel a sense of pride and true deep connection when I read about your love affair with your city.
    It is your city. I have experience this myself. A sense of deep ownership and belonging to a specific piece of geography.
    Everyone has a soul mate. Mine is San Francisco and Norman, OK.
    They are just not blessed dear. Once they find their place, their soul they will feel remorse for all the slander and they will indeed feel compelled to make amends for all of the negative chi. Wait for it. We can't all be grown up.
    I love that you are. I love that you have found your place under the sun. And I am so GD proud of you for living there and making it work on however or however little money.

  4. I. Get. This. 100%. Most people do not understand my love for New Orleans and how much I desperately want to live there again. I am still heartbroken over what has happened there; it is like my baby has been wounded, but I cannot help her get better.

    Of course, I say I want to live there, but I have had trouble coping with big cities in my old age...