Friday, June 06, 2008
The City Across the River
A few weeks ago, I finished reading Leap Days, writer Katherine Lanpher's ponderings on a mid-life move to New York.
It's insightful, honest, beautiful, and gutsy. One chapter made me cry on the PATH train. If you read it and you know my history, you'll know why. If you don't—if you're not altogether sure what was going on between the paragraphs of Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik's first chapter—well, you'll know why by the time my next book gets written.
In Leap Days, Katherine does something that I have forgotten to do for many years.
As a newcomer, she loves New York City. She reflects on it and appreciates it. Her sense of wonder made me envious. When was the last time I marveled at the skyline of Manhattan? Thrilled to the rush of people on the subway? Watched the police fan out to keep the peace below Houston on a weekend night? When was the last time that I had a four a.m. slice on St. Mark's and Avenue A?
It's been a while.
Yesterday, I announced that I'm here for the long haul this time. Fate handed me an ironic twist, hollowing out my reasons for hanging around right after it was too late to turn back. I have commitments to classes and teaching, so here I'll sit from September to June.
I moved here in January of 1988. (Riverdale, initially, up in the Bronx.) That's 20 years, sort of. 19 if you don't count 2001 while I was traipsing around the world by ship and bus. Probably 17 if you subtract all my time abroad. A little more if you include my first foray, where I lived first in Brooklyn and later on Staten Island in 1985. I was horrified at the city, its poverty and inconvenience. That was it for me and New York. I wasn't going to come back.
I'm so used to it all now that the marvels of NYC are just part of my background noise.
I'm taking my inspiration from Leap Days and from the people who gently mock my apathy in my own blog's comments. I'll go out, see the world in my own backyard. I must, or I'll go crazy from routine and lack of new input.
I'll get there.
On my own terms, of course.