New York is never happy to see you
I have never liked New York City. Whenever I set foot on Manhattan Island, my blood pressure raises. I don’t really know why I feel this way. If anything I should like it – both sides of my parents’ families are from the area, I grew up a Yankees fan (I know), and two of my favorite shows are set there.
Something about the city has always left me feeling uneasy. I don’t know if it’s concrete canyons of Midtown, the dirt, or the unwelcoming attitude of New Yorkers, but I have never felt comfortable when I’ve visited.
One day, years ago, I was playing my guitar at my grandparents’ house in Long Island. My grandfather told me that when he was my age, he used to play handball against the Gretsch Guitar factory in Williamsburg. Some time later, an article in the New York Times had a picture of Broadway in Brooklyn. He’d cut out the picture, circled the Gretsch logo on the factory and he sent it to me, as if I hadn’t believed him that such a place had existed.
My sister moved to New York after college, something she had her heart set on for as long as I can remember. The building she lives in now overlooks that old Gretsch factory.
Most of my friends moved to New York after college. I once had an argument with my best friend in Morningside Park about how toiling away in a cramped city to live in a shoebox in the sky sounded like a nightmare. He didn’t agree with me.
Today I’m moving to New York for a writing opportunity.
I took the Amtrak down. I felt the agita building inside me as my train swooped down through the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. I was questioning my decision as the train dipped under the East River.
New York is never happy to see you. It has no time for you and your insecurities – you either get over it, or you get out.
I visited my sister this afternoon and saw the Gretsch building, sitting squat along Broadway in Brooklyn, blotting out part of the Manhattan skyline. There’s a dry cleaner and a bodega on the ground floor now. My sister is excited to have me nearby. My best friend, who I’ve stopped arguing with about the theoretical concept of New York, is excited to have me nearby. My extended family is happy to have me nearby.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m missing that thing that makes Woody Allen movies and Seinfeld episodes so popular. I hope I figure it out pretty soon.
Wish me luck.