New York, My Great Love. My heart goes out to you.
I’m some hundred miles from New York now. While Hurricane Sandy was blasting us with icy rain and nuisance winds she was pounding my New York. Sandy filled the streets that I have casually walked and many times hurriedly rushed down. Sandy overflowed train stations that took me to social engagements, to cultural events, and in all its incarnations—home.
Home. That is what New York is to me. It doesn’t matter how many places I imagine the satisfaction of living in; New York always makes the list. I lived through blizzards and blackouts and 9/11. Oh man, I remember the feeling of unbelievable dread. But you know us (New Yorkers). I purchased a bargain flashlight and inexpensive slippers and huffed it till I couldn’t walk anymore. Having a bestie with me during most of the journey helped (as it always has). Got as far as my childhood neighborhood and crashed at another bestie’s. And when I rested enough I made my way across town in the dark. Ignored the dirt creeping into my shoes to (barely) make it to a bus that took me to another bus that would get me as close to home as possible. I had never been so happy to see my block in the Bronx. The cold shower brought sobering gratitude for the fact that I was safe and I would be spending the night in my bed.
I’m sure people would say that I’m feeling nostalgic because I’m looking at New York through sympathetic eyes, blinded by its realities. I am grieving for my hometown as I watch the news reports. No matter how many times I see the rivers that flow through many subway stations, my jaw still drops. Even in places I have never been to, a dull thud in my chest occurs when I see the row of houses that burned to the ground or the non existent boardwalks. My best friend who lives in Jersey lost power last night. I haven’t heard from her all day. My road dawg, my partner in nefarious deeds (many taken place in New York), she is the one that keeps our connection active. So yeah, my heart-strings are pulled in head spinning directions.
I admit, I had not appreciated all that New York was to me until I left. I miss the transportation system. Sure you could tell when an undesirable stench was occupying a particular car by its emptiness compared to the overflow of the other cars. But you dealt with it and vowed to get a spot on that train even if someone was gonna catch an elbow. And yes, constant delays meant quick thinking and using your mental map to coordinate an alternate route. How many hours did I spend in Penn Station waiting, watching the show?
I think of the conversations I’ve had and friends I made walking in The Village. I remember interesting flavors I experienced at restaurants I’d never been to before but that I swore would be my new faves (never made it back). Didn’t think alligator would taste like General Tso’s chicken. Let’s not forget that infamous NY aroma. Its mix of urine, stale alcohol, and garbage. It’s a distinct stench that makes you think you’re always stepping in IT. Don’t act new, you know what IT is. The stuff you don’t ever want at the bottom of your shoe. Yup, even the memory smells leave me a bit melancholy.
Holidays and seasons, they all have a special twist to them when they occur in New York. The parades (can’t believe the Halloween parade won’t happen this year), the winter decorations, New Years, the blooms of spring, the summer concerts, autumn in New York; I’ve got stories for the rest of my life.
I miss looking out my window—wherever that window was—and seeing lights for miles. Tonight that view would be very different. It would seem like a bad dream; New York in darkness, sleeping but snoring loudly. The sounds of the restless and adventurous (supposedly) home bound and the recovery spiking the air.
As I wrap this up, Jimmy Kimmel Live is actually live from Brooklyn! This is what I’m talking about. My love is a special one isn’t she?
New York, she is stinky, loud, and dirty. Some odors I can’t tolerate. I do not like a lot of noise. Don’t get me started on dirt.
I LOVE NEW YORK!