Ride with him and sooner or later you will hear him say it: I used to live there. His finger jabs as if to poke a hole into the night. I used to live there. On Broadway and Fulton and Riverside and Houston he is so goddamned irritating, can't keep his mouth shut. In crowded movie theatres when it turns out the location scout knows where to get the best fifty-cent hot dog. On long walks, while flipping through random books of photography, while flying overhead on jet planes: I used to live there. When they least expect it he will say it, apropos of nothing he will say it, because if he hasn't lived there, he will someday. There are always other apartments waiting for him. There is always more city.
Colson Whitehead, 2003
If that doesn't describe the quintessential New Yorker, I don't know what does.
This essay collection is fabulous. The first piece was originally published in the New York Times Magazine in a special issue shortly after September 11th. I read it two months later, on a plane on my way to Dublin. We were one of the first flights to take off from JFK after that plane crashed in the Rockaways.