New York, I love you.
A few weeks into living there, the Northeast experienced its first cold spell of 2006 and I will never forget the gust that blew right through my thin wool pea coat, all the way into and through my bones. Growing up in Atlanta where the BLIZZARD OF ‘93 (see: 3 inches of snow) was the stuff of legends, I had never, ever known cold like that. It was stunning. Real winter was something I'd never even imagined. Snow banks taller than cars. Ice. Wet, freezing feet. I miss it... sometimes.
During my first month in New York, a woman on a crowded subway asked me if I was visiting. I was so offended. "What? No! I live here," I wanted to yell. Didn't I look like a New Yorker?? Wasn't I cool and secure enough?? It was, at that point, 5 years since September 11th and while it was something very far from my mind, it was still so very fresh in the minds of New Yorkers who’d lived through the attacks. “Too bad you’ll never know New York before it happened,” she said to me, “it’ll never be the same.” It angered and it saddened me. What did she mean? Was New York terrible now? It still seemed amazing and exciting and wonderful to me.
Two years later, I was working in a restaurant in TriBeCa, a few blocks up from Ground Zero. Every year, of the three that I worked there, we would get numerous calls from firefighters and from people who’d escaped the attack wanting to speak to anyone who answered about how Ivy’s Bistro opened its doors to everyone the day of and months after, offering food and beer to any rescue workers or people in need. It was always an intense day to work. Lots of feelings. Lots of reflection. Appreciation. Sadness. I’d never know New York before 9/11 but I did know my New York, my New York from 2006-2011. My New York was still a thrill. I was in my 20s. I was drunk. A lot. I thought I knew what I was pursuing, but I had little direction. I had a great little tribe. The dreams were real. They still are, but now they’re grown up dreams. In New York City, the dreams were pure magic. Because New York is magic.
I’ve been in Los Angeles now for almost seven years, a sentence I never EVER thought I’d write. It’s taken me this long to love this city. I loved New York at first sight, Spring Break, my freshman year of high school. But, like all relationships, my love affair with New York has changed. The last time I was there, February of this year, I found myself panicking. Literally panicking. The city was NOT the same City I’d lived in. There’s a ton of empty storefronts. The same places I went don’t exist anymore or feel different. I was tired and I felt like I had nowhere to go. It wasn’t my New York. Don’t get me wrong, I’d never claim to have been a true New Yorker, 5 years does not one make, but there I was, remarking on, “how the city would never be the same.” It would never be my New York again. But it will be a trillion other people’s.
New York is strong and sexy and not afraid to show you who’s boss. Where New York will say, “get your bag, pack it full, you’re not gonna be home for hours, it’ll probably rain, you’ll definitely get dirty and you may cry, “ LA is much more like ,”oh hey cool, you’re still here? Umm, yeah, okay cool, well, have fun I guess.” I am proud to have lived in New York. It’s the best city in the world. It’s the most resilient. Its people are the most honest and hard working and they couldn’t exist anywhere but there. ( I mean they could exist in LA if they wanted to...but there’s no convincing most of them…)
Today felt like a good day to reflect on the City where my mushy, baby, girl brain strengthened into a worldly, brassy, lady brain. I will always be grateful for my time spent living there and I will always be thankful to visit and still recognize remnants of what was once mine.
I love you, New York.