I have wanted to live in New York since I was 14. I don’t know why, really, something about the busyness and the skyscrapers, the fact that so many people here have character and story, its landmarks and fame and history. The music scene and Broadway and the museums and the thrift stores and music shops all over. The never-ending exploring.
The first place I lived here was an apartment owned by Columbia University. Technically a one bedroom, but really just two rooms. Nice, quiet. Wood floors. Walking distance from campus. Very lonely.
I just moved to a house in Brooklyn, on a street with huge trees. More wood floors. Roommates this time, still quiet, house 100 years old, fluffy dog. The neighborhood has Bangladeshis and Orthodox Jews, along with white folks and black folks and Hispanics and other assorted NYC diversity. I’m an hour away from Manhattan now, which is annoying in some ways, but the trees and the quiet and the roommates will, I think, be good for me.
But I realized last night that what I haven’t done is lived in a place with a fire escape, one that I could grow things in window boxes in, and sit on to read and watch the street below.
I can’t get past the story-ness of this city. The grandness of it. Even while possibilities seem to be closing around me, I blame myself, not the city. Even in all its dirt and poverty and pollution and old angry buildings, this city sings with poetry. There are moments when, looking at buildings silhouetted against the sky, looking down the long urban canyon that is Broadway or Amsterdam Avenue, it’s beautiful enough to take my breath away. Part of me wants to live the poem that is a tiny LES apartment with a cat and a fire escape and bums sleeping on the steps.
And then I remember, me chasing after place is a big part of what’s gotten me so depressed in the first place. Me chasing experience instead of surrounding myself with people. Why do people describe the places they’ve lived? Why don’t they describe the people they live with? Isn’t that a more important part of the environment? Why can’t I remember that?