Dear New York City,
Anyone who knows me knows that I have wanted to be here since I learned how to read. And by a twist of fate, some admissions people decided to let me live this dream and well, here I am. I’ve been here for about six months so I thought I would write to you and let you know how I really feel.
Even though I love you, there are moments of doubt.
Like when I saw a guy peeing in the subway. Or when someone tried to break in through the window next to my bed. Or when I feel like I’m slowly dying because people are always blowing cigarette smoke in my face. BTW – what’s up with so many people soiling your air? Oh, and then there was that time when my apartment was really a home for mice more than it was a home for me.
But I’ve continued to love you anyways.
A lot of people might read that list of crazy things and wonder why New Yorkers put up with rodents and rancidity and robbers when we could be living somewhere much cleaner and safer and with seemingly nicer people. Do we stay for the 24-hour take-out? Is it because we like to visit museums? Or are we really just here for the pizza? The truth is that many tend to come to you for inspiration. Well, I’m no different. I’m here to tell your stories and, boy, are there stories.
Every day, you amaze me. Each time I step onto the subway, I feel free. I just stay in that subway car and minutes later it’s like I’ve traveled centuries without moving at all. Where else in the world could I have a Shabbos dinner with Hasidic Jews, take a Spanish Flamenco lesson and interview angry street vendors all within 14 miles of each other? I look around the subway car and there are so many birthdays, so many breakups, so many weddings. But no one talks. There seems to be this mutual understanding that none of us are going to acknowledge one another no matter how much we might have in common – we’re all just going to travel together. Maybe there’s loneliness but maybe there’s comfort in numbers. And maybe there’s also comfort in continuity. The subway doors close and the car moves along and most of the time you can trust that it’s going to stop at your station. You can trust that most people won’t acknowledge you when you sit down. You can trust that roughly six times out of 10 there will be a performance either musical or comical while you travel from 42nd Street to Penn Station. You can trust if that man is willing to pee in the subway, he’s probably willing to pee anywhere. So you probably shouldn’t eat food that you’ve dropped on the sidewalk. And I’m not saying I’ve done that…
But it’s times like these, when I’m on a Peter Pan bus moving away from you and I see the lights from afar. I haven’t even parted from the Hudson River and I already feel like I miss you. I don’t miss the trash on the sidewalks. I don’t miss the cigarette smoke. I don’t miss the rats. I don’t miss the people who beg me for money every time I leave my front door. But at the same time… I kind of do. All of these elements are what make you, you. If none of these things existed, you wouldn’t be New York and you wouldn’t have so many stories for me to tell.
I’ll be back in a couple of days. See you soon.