Wednesday, October 12, 2005

NY "heart" Me

E.B White once said, "It can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky."

New York is a place to try your luck, to test yourself, to be pushed and pulled when you just want a siren-less night's sleep. I've always maintained that the trial of life is how a person reacts during toughest times. By that measure, you are constantly reacting in New York. How one maintains their relationships in their bustling New York schedule, how one parties all night in Chelsea after flying in on a red-eye, how one cooks dinner for 8 in their studio, how one scurries around town to pull together an outfit for an evening out on a tight budget, how one walks 20 blocks in a flooding rain storm in their open toed Choos. How one maintains their love for New York even if it doesn't always feel mutual.

There are three types of New Yorkers that establish this city as changeless and ever-changing.

One, those who were born here. They lay the foundation of the city. They keep the city grounded through bequests of old subway lines, what occupied Govenor's Island, great grandfathers that contributed to the Brooklyn Bridge, and outer-borough accents.

Two, those that commute into the city. They sustain the restlessness of the city. They stir up Grand Central and Penn Station. They move crowds forward in the mornings and back in the evenings. They make iconic NYC landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge functional and historic railroads like the LIRR stay in transit.

Three, those that came here to try their luck. Aspiring artists to young Donalds to green grocers. Monologue memorized Broadway auditioners, Fashion Week runway ready legs, textile graduated cloth cutters and mannequin drapers, spray paint shakers in Williamsburg, skateboard tricksters to contemporary vintage hipsters in the Village. Fresh econ graduates eager to tote their Tumis on Wall Street, partners from Goldberg, Cohen and Levy LLP hailing cabs off Park Ave, ER doctors shooting hoops, having a smoke in between rounds. Manicurists who speak to each other in a language that sounds as if they're yelling but then look up with a smile to ask, "what color you like?" Deli grocers stocked with vegetables, flowers, and perogis. Men on street corners standing guard New York's seven papers, five weeklies, three monthlies. These are the New Yokers that disseminate the passion and frustration of the city. They are liberated and devastated. They feel as high as the Chrysler, then as low as the F line. They are doormen, they are co-op members, they are bike messengers, they are Tri-athletes, they are broken hearts leaning on other broken hearts, they are singles shoe shopping. They come to seek different things but in the end, as E.B. White says, those who come to New York do not seek comfort and convinience. You would live elsewhere if you sought that.

It's a love/hate thing. The best kind.