4.21.2011

this just in: i love new york city

I thought I'd blog while I was away, but never sat still long enough. I had a lovely visit with my mother, who is doing really well, and a terrific time with my sister, gabbing, drinking wine and touring her beautiful new home.

I spent one afternoon and evening in New York, a quick fix but a great one. The people, the noise, the grime, the energy, I was drinking it all in. It looks like much of the development that was driving me nuts in the late 90s and early 00s - the big box stores, the homogenization - has been halted, at least on the Upper West Side. Things looked as haphazard and disorganized as ever, and I mean that in the best possible sense. Taking the usual inventory of which restaurants and stores have disappeared and which ones have survived - this is not recession-related, just the normal flux of a constantly changing city - I thought my favourite diner had disappeared, but it turns out the owners renovated and changed the name. Whew.

I met NN at the Peacefood Cafe, a vegan cafe and bakery, then met AW1L and F at the Mermaid Inn, a terrific seafood joint. This was really my kind of place and I'd love to go back - excellent food in a relaxed, earthy atmosphere. It was so good to catch up with friends who I miss.

A, F and I were reminiscing about some of the bad good old days of New York. We all agreed we don't need to see any of that again, but we're glad we experienced it. We were laughing so hard at some of these stories. One of my favourites took place at the Jay Street-Boro Hall subway stop in Brooklyn. Both the F and the A trains stop on the same track; you have to check the train before you hop on. I was running down the steps to make a train, and there was one of those classic late 70s-early 80s creations: every car had a different letter. The first car was an F, behind that was an A, behind that an N or an R, then another F. A conductor was sticking his head out of the window, so I asked him, "What train is this?" He barked: "Can't you read??

At the table on Wednesday night, we all laughed so hard over this. Incidents like those were part of what forged your New Yorkerness, living in an environment where it was perfectly acceptable to speak and be spoken to this way. AW1L is originally from Iowa, and F is originally from Alabama. They have each traveled quite a bit and lived in many places, including London - not the one in Ontario - for several years. Talking about New York with New Yorkers who grew up elsewhere and know many other cities is great. They totally get it.

I was hoping - as I have been for the last six or seven visits - to check out The High Line, which was completed after I left. It was not to be. I did stay up on election news as much as possible. Things are exciting and so scary right now.

6 comments:

New Nova Scotian said...

As a former resident of NJ and a former frequent vistor to NYC, I can say that I love and miss the city too. I haven't been out of Canada now for almost three years and continually moan about how I want to go back, just for a short trip, to visit the CITY. My wife reminds me Canada is my new home, that I fought long and hard to move here, and that I can always go off to Toronto (from our home in Halifax)if I want a wonderful big city to visit. She also reminds me that Toronto is a cosmopolitan city, "kind of like NYC without (so many) guns."

laura k said...

I haven't been out of Canada now for almost three years and continually moan about how I want to go back, just for a short trip, to visit the CITY.

And why don't you? It's not far. It's there waiting for you. Just because you live in Canada doesn't mean you can't visit the US, does it?

I go twice a year to visit family and friends. I always spend part of the time at my mom's or my siblings' homes, outside of the city, and a day or two in NYC itself.

Re your wife's suggestion, I really really like Toronto, it's an excellent city, but it is nothing like New York. If you are looking for a NYC fix, there are no substitutes.

New York, by the way, has fewer guns and less crime than any other US city. More crime than Toronto, of course, but really very very little crime by US standards.

johngoldfine said...

No border hassles either way?

Dog in the offing?

Red Sox maybe getting untracked?

Skoolz out for the summer?

Big dose of big city?

Whoooo--fun to be you! Glad you are home safe and sound.

laura k said...

Thanks John! :) :)

Amy said...

No matter how long I have lived in New England (for 40 years except for one year between college and law school) and no matter how much I love New England, Boston, the Cape and the Red Sox, in my heart I will always be a New Yorker. When I am in NYC, something visceral, undescribable happens that makes me still feel like, "This is my city." I love it, and I hate it. It thrills me, and it exhausts me. I am never bored, and I am never at ease. I feel that nowhere else in the world.

After a day or two, I am happy to retreat to the peacefulness of New England.

Glad you had such a good time.

laura k said...

When I am in NYC, something visceral, undescribable happens

I can relate to this part!

It might be that part of why you find it exhausting is because you're always a visitor. If you lived there, you'd have a different relationship to the energy.

Not that living in NYC is for everybody, it is clearly not. But your description of your feelings about NYC do not sound like you are a New Yorker at heart, or at all. You sound like a typical visitor who enjoys it but is always glad to leave. (Much like how I felt about my nieces and nephews when they were kids, how I loved being an aunt and was always so relieved not to be a mom.)