Thursday, December 18, 2014

So nice, they named it twice.

On Monday Dec. 22 at about 6 AM I’m going to throw a suitcase into the trunk, start my car and point it east. In ten hours or so (God willing) I’ll be in New York, the city that was once my home. I loved living there – and loved (in almost equal portion), complaining about it. Nothing was easy about the city. Everything was an effort. Buying groceries; schlep, to and from. Transportation; a litany of delays. Noise; endless. And I loved it.

As a new arrival, I remember standing in front of my apartment on Morton St in the West Village. It was about 2:00 AM on a warm Saturday in May. Looking around, I had the thought, “I’m standing in the middle of an amusement park – and I don’t have to go home.” I was a much younger man then, and the city was all futures and possibilities.

Now, those futures and possibilities are largely behind me. But the city remains attractive, alluring and as visually spectacular as it ever was. I recall my daily commute, after I had moved to NJ and started a family, riding NJ Transit into the Lincoln Tunnel. Sitting on the Transverse as the sun rose over the Atlantic, rolling slowing toward the mouth of the tunnel, the city spread to my left. From Midtown to the Battery, the vista was spectacular. I often thought of the line from Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, “…never such a sight, like rolling into New York City, shining in the morning light.”

Next week I’ll reconnect as best I can with some of the magic, some of the awe that keeps me engaged. I’ll eat, the food is always special, varied, unexpected. I’ll walk, marvel at all that is new. And, I’ll get turned around, confused and have to ask directions (unheard of in the ‘old days’), knowing that New Yorkers are the very soul of helpfulness. And, there’ll be the people; the characters, the crazies, the humor that is part of the great democracy found on every street.

When I tell people that I miss the place I often hear, “How could you possibly live there?” I can’t explain it, other than to quote a John Sebastian tune:
I'll tell you about the magic and it'll free your soul
But it's like tryin' to tell a stranger 'bout rock and roll

Yeah, I know it sounds sappy (and maybe a little arrogant). Kind of like a lot of New Yorkers I know.

Heh, heh…

Below is a link to some wonderful observations about the city, and what it’s meant to a few generations of writers.