Don’t ask where this came from. If you hop aboard my train of thought all I can guarantee you is a derailment… I anticipated that my first post back from vacation would be about something I saw or did whilst out of town. A movie I watched, a book I read, a meal I ate, a wine I purchased, a slot machine I lost at, etc. To be honest, I haven’t yet been in that reflective place. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great things about my exploration of the west with CSD Julie, but I have not yet quite gathered my thoughts in that ‘write a blog post’ way as of yet.
I have however, gone off on a tangent this morning.
Is there a more dysfunctional relationship than the one between New Yorkers and New York City?
From working with, talking with, and witnessing first hand the wily New Yorker in their native environment, I have come to the conclusion that unlike anywhere else in the world, living in New York City shares a close bond with the following:
1. Being trapped in a loveless marriage
2. Spending the rest of your days happily ever after with your soul mate
3. Surviving in the world’s largest family
4. Ruling the world
5. Eating 5-star meals, morning, noon, and night
6. Contracting bowel-shaking food poisoning on a weekly basis
Notice the dichotomy? I realize, I was pretty subtle there… Feel free to read it again if you need to… Yep, there’s some opposites in there, but every single one of them seems to apply when considering a life in New York.
First off, I also fully recognize that a non New Yorker writing about living in New York is about as popular as Carrot Top performing in blackface, but the subject of New York from a New Yorker’s point of view has been explored to death. The subject of visiting New York from the outside has equally been trod into a finely worn path, but I cannot recall ever reading a non New Yorker’s view on what it must be like to live in the city. Why, you ask, do I feel I have that right? Honestly, I don’t, but the thought has been kicking me in the ass for a few weeks now, so I’m just getting it out there. Besides, upon visiting New York my first goal is always to look as little like a tourist as I possibly can. As a matter of fact, my favorite New York moment occurred on my last visit, when I was stopped in Central Park by a couple of mid-westerners asking me for directions. At that moment I knew ‘oh yeah, I could be a New Yorker, provided I could spend my days wandering the streets and not, you know, *working*’
Back to my point. Let me examine the above New York states of mind…
Being trapped in a loveless marriage- No matter the time of day or night, no matter the month of the year, the year of the decade, or the decade of the century, the noise in New York City never quite stops. Like a nagging spouse over your shoulder, 24 hours a day, New York is always expecting more from you while refusing to give the moment of piece you so richly crave. Just as it seems the city is opening it’s arms for you, giving you your every desire, you get mugged, or hit by a taxi, or it starts to rain even though it’s 95 degrees out. New York give you nothing unconditionally.
Spending the rest of your days happily ever after with your soul mate- It’s not all gloom and doom. From virtually any spot in Manhattan you are within walking distance of great food, world class entertainment, culture, shopping, and landmarks. Taken as a whole, the city is a love letter to the American dream. Anything you can imagine is not only possible in New York, it likely already exists. New York is saying ‘I will give you everything you’ve ever wanted, and all I ask in return is that you take it from me.’ Isn’t that how we all want our romances to go? Perfection is for suckers, real love is 24 hour pizza parlors and an unfathomably hot cup of deli coffee on a chilly, wet spring morning.
Surviving in the world’s largest family: New Yorkers relate to each other both as enemies, and comrades in arms. They will at once steal each other’s seats on the subway, yell, honk, and curse at each other, while still defending one another to the death from outsiders. Like siblings, they are free to beat and mock each other mercilessly, but anyone not from the city is strictly forbidden from the familial bonding. New York is not unique in this camaraderie, but it may be more stern in it’s practice than most other places in the world. This is not a product of September 11th either, just ask former Atlanta Braves pitcher and all around jerk-off John Rocker…
Ruling the world: If a tree fell in the woods, how would it effect traffic on the Long Island Expressway? In California, we are taught to be global citizens. In foreign countries, it is imperative to know what your neighbors, and what the United States is doing. In New York, there is only New York. I am not saying that New Yorker’s are not aware of the world around them, because in many ways they are far more connected than a lot of other parts of our great nation. The difference is New York views the rest of the world like a weather report. Wars, famines, floods, ethnic cleansing, devastating earthquakes, violent uprisings, Toyotathon, New York knows of all of these events, because New Yorkers need to know if they need to wear a jacket out to Chelsea Piers.
Eating 5-Star Meals, morning, noon, and night: True on both a literal, and figurative level, everything you want you can find in New York. Peruvian cuisine, knock off handbags, skyscrapers that pierce the heavens and mock God himself, a hot dog stand every 14 feet, used vinyl in both record and clothing form, art, books, movies, music, parades, parks, history, everything but a parking space. New Yorkers, like natives of any cultural center, tend to be numb to the greatness of the city while still being acutely aware that they are privy to an experience few of us in the rest of the world will ever understand. How I long for midnight pastrami and wish for a 24 Hour Deli in my small corner of suburbia. Alas, this is the price I pay for being able to safely stow my car.
Contracting bowel-shaking food poisoning on a weekly basis: As much joy and reverence as I gain from visiting New York, attempting to blend seamlessly with the native throng, the pace of life, the constant noise, the lack of traffic laws, the amount of foot traffic, the high cost of living, the overwhelming sense of being surrounded by a machine much larger than yourself, and the ever vigilant side stepping to keep from becoming grist in it’s mills, there is nothing like stepping off a plane back in Southern California. Living in the city, I wonder when and if the denizens of the grand Metropolis ever get a chance to exhale. Like overloading on grease at the state fair, or one too many street side falafels there is such a thing as too much of a good thing…
Well, that was cathartic, and will give me a chance to see if anyone from the city reads this blog… If so, I’m sure I’ll be sufficiently flogged for overstepping my non New Yorker bounds, but the next time I’m in the city, I dare you to recognize me as a tourist… I’ll get back to my usual film/music/book fascinations soon enough. I just had to indulge the demon chomping on my cerebrum. Hay, maybe by the time I take a vacation elsewhere I’ll be ready to write about Las Vegas…
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