Well, it’s Tuesday. I’m sitting in my grandparents’ dining-when-it’s-a-really-nice-occasion/working-on-computers/picking-out-tunes-on-the harpsichord/posting-on-your-blog-at-9:52-at-night (ahem) room, and I’ve just come back from New York City, visiting my dad’s brother, his wife, and their two kids. Ah. New York City.
It’s not really fair to compare a city like New York to Chicago, for example, because the two are so different and on such different levels. See, in New York, there is no real downtown. I mean, wherever you live, whether it’s an upscale mansion surrounded by overpriced furniture stores created specially to serve the rich families that live in such mansions, or a tiny one-bedroom apartment next to a McDonalds (which is in all senses self-explanitory), there’s always SOMETHING. There is no real middle of nowhere in New York City. Everywhere is somewhere! There’s always some cool restaurant, some funky boutique, some cheap secondhand store filled with frizzy green jackets that your grandmother likes to wear. You see what I mean? Even on McDonalds Avenue, there’s bound to be SOMETHING. Maybe it’s a tiny museum. Maybe it’s a stationary store. Maybe it’s a takeout place with the best fried chicken wings you’ve ever tasted. You get the idea. Whew. Sorry; I feel I’ve been going off on mini-bursts of commercial-y enthusiasm. Didn’t mean it that way. I promise most sincerely that I’m not Southwest Airlines advertising nonstop flights to N.Y.C. all day Saturday.
There’s something else, though. It’s not just the stores. It’s the people. There’s some kind of weird motivation…some kind of hipster-notice me-running out of time for work yet always free for a picnic kind of energy. You can see it in the way they walk on the street, even. They don’t really walk; they do this kind of combination of a waddle and a stride and a red-carpet-walk. It’s quick, but not the kind of quick where your mother tells you not to run; the kind of natural quick that someone who’s constantly running out of time seems to possess naturally. But not TOO quick; not too quick, that is, to have a coffee with the guy next door, or check your hair in the window of a store (and while you’re at it, why not take a look inside?).
I have this theory that when a New Yorker is born, someone takes them aside and gives them a can of juice. When they drink it, it stirs this inner New Yorker-ness inside of them. Or maybe, at the New York schools, they have a class on how to be a proper New Yorker: the walk, the clothes, everything. I suppose, looking at it more realistically, they just learn it from watching everyone around them. Like, when you’re born in U.K., you acquire an accent from listening to people around you, I guess. How else would you?
My mom used to live in New York. That’s where she met my dad. She talked to me about her life when she lived there, and then she started talking about the people. “Sometimes,” she said, “it’s just so great to be around all these different people. You know. There’s always someone who’s doing something cooler, more exciting than you, or wearing something more hip, or with a crazier and more fascinating social life. It motivates us. But sometimes it makes you feel like you have a boring life. In Chicago, you won’t feel that as often.”
Think about it. It makes sense, right?
Well, have a nice day, or night, or morning, or afternoon. And please excuse the hyper-enthusiasm of this post. I just had to get that burst of I-don’t-know-what that New York seems to give you out of my system.