The city where I live used to be empty in the summer. Steam could be pouring off the concrete, steam would be rising to the sky, steam would be all around me. Each spot where a dog, cat, human peed would have its own odor. The stink of one fishhead could be smelled three blocks down. But in the summer I felt free.
The city where I live has never invited solitude. It’s never embraced the weak or given solace to the unambitious. That was always understood. You could feel lonely in the city, if you moved from someplace and knew nobody, I am told. Wouldn’t know. It’s been my city always.
There’s a different kind of loneliness. One that has nothing to do with not knowing people, and everything to do with hunger for something else. On the way to the restaurant I felt assaulted by people. Broadway was packed. The cab driver got into a fight with another one.
“Hey Buddy,” I wanted to say, “that’s my dime you’re spending.”
But neither of us speak that kind of New York. He’s Black from a distant land, and I am whoever. I was late, and whenever late make the dreadful mistake of getting into a cab instead of walking. From one day to the next I forget how fast I can be on foot.
Though it was only my second time in the restaurant, I felt at home there. But I feel more at home in restaurants from pricey to diners to Cuban/Chinese than I do in most homes. There hasn’t been a time in my adult life I haven’t eaten in or from restaurants.
The restaurant wasn’t participating in restaurant week. Too trendy yet solid. Each table was filled, people waited at the bar and yet they let us linger for hours. And we weren’t even young and adorable anymore. It’s not something that I think about all the time. For so long I took my I’m insecure but worthy status for granted. Maybe I still do. Maybe it’s not getting older that makes people invisible but attitude.
When we walked outside I felt invaded by buildings. So many that hadn’t been here ten or even one year ago. It was almost not familiar, almost like a movie set that portrays a perfected never really been real city. It was my city, the city where I live. It’s real. It used to be so invigorating.
On the walk home I stopped in B&N and was struck by all the chick books I woke up in a good mood, and really have to become miserable again. And the books about becoming a bitch. I like the word “bitch.” It’s a great word when used correctly Dont enjoy being a bitch. Why would people want to learn that skill?
Yes, it’s a joke. No, there’s nothing funny about wanting to be a bitch or wanting to be miserable. Nothing funny about it at all. I could give lessons. Truthfully that’s the part of me that I wanted to shed.
Once irony was proclaimed dead in the city where I live. That lasted about half hour. Once there was meat behind the irony. Now it’s sardonic without real wit. Empty shells who shout buzz.
The city where I live is so many cities in one that it takes my breath away. Once I found the neighborhoods within the neighborhoods endlessly fascinating. Once I was enchanted by life in the city where I live and have loved and have fought and found my way through decades of contentment, strife, misery, and joy, often all at once.
The city where I live is dense with different groups from different worlds, and I will always love the vigor that it brings. Though somehow we all seem homogenized. Maybe I have lived in this city too long.
The city where I live is vertical, and I feel it closing in on me. If I were to stay I would fear for my sanity and longevity. There are amazing parks, and wonderful rivers, but I need to be near the ocean, where I can’t see Jersey, Queens, or Brooklyn.
Just endless waves going past the horizon, that’s what I dream of living near. I feel spoiled for I live a block and a park from the Hudson, but my wide angle lenses pictures make it seem bigger than it is. Maybe I need to be at the river constantly. Maybe I’m a bitch who can’t appreciate the city where I live. Or maybe I need to live in it just less. But that requires money and the city where I live is the most expensive in America.
The city where I live is much prettier than it has ever been. There are times that I feel so guilty for wanting to leave. If I just try to take advantage of all that is here, if I make myself walk every street as I used to with so much joy. But the streets are too crowded, and it feels like a great place to visit.