Tuesday, May 28, 2013
New York anniversary, year 3.
Over the long weekend, we caught up with a friend of ours who is wrestling with a decision to take a dream job in another city. Seriously, this is a Dream Job/Career Maker, and the potential city is, from what I've heard, a very nice place to live (details withheld to protect a lovely person who didn't ask for his/her life to be publicized here). Seems like a no-brainer, but said person is not entirely sure he/she is ready to leave New York.
Of course, I was all, pfft, dream job! You can come back! Live while you're young! and so forth, but I think that the idea of an unbreakable tie to the city is something that, despite all my talk of Colorado dreams, I'm finally starting to get.
Today marks three years since I first set foot in Manhattan without a return ticket. Three years! And as I start to round the corner towards my twenty-eighth birthday (no-longer-a-spring-chicken-hood looming ever closer), it grows increasingly obvious that the most significant relationship of my twenties is this one, the one between myself and the city. My partnership with this pulsating, roiling, vibrantly enthusiastic, stubborn, sullen and always richly incredible place. 'Place' doesn't seem like a quite substantial enough word, but I suppose she can be found on a map, and 'state of mind' seemed to err on the side of perhaps a bit poetic, which didn't seem right here. I'm officially putting a fork in it, calling her my most main of squeezes (sorry darling) mostly because of the unparalleled part she's played in helping me to foster and cultivate my relationship with myself.
Actually, I should probably be my real main squeeze. So she's like, number 2 (again, sorry honey).
A quick side note that seems worth mentioning: I'm going to continue to bless her with that holiest of pronouns ("she"), in agreement with the hordes of songwriters, authors, screenwriters, poets and otherwise artists who have labeled her as such over the years. The energy of the city, while sometimes dark and violent, does feel uniquely (and sometimes divinely) feminine to me. I see in her Shakti, Diana, Gaia, Aphrodite. Creator and destroyer, pursuer and seductress, muse to many and unmistakably motherly - she is She, a modern-day and ever-morphing goddess; she is all that is love.
Looking back on my first anniversary post, it is painfully obvious that I was too young to understand, that I was so scared to commit. That I was frustrated with her for not eagerly reaching out to me as I arrived on her shores. Even my eventual understanding was shallow (although throw a couple more years at it and I'm sure this will look puny as well, but here we are). It wasn't about whether she had the time; I needed her validation to be able to grow and she was unwilling to give it to me. I hated her for keeping it from me, something Chicago had so easily given.
But she needed to know that I was serious about her, that I was serious about me. She needed to know that I would, at some point, be able to let go of my attachment and be that validation for myself.
And I have.
So now I've relaxed, she's opened up, and we've settled into something comfortable, something familiar. I see her, through the dirt and chaos and frustration and hate and hurt and all that's been dumped on her over the years. I see the pure electric love throbbing at her core, pumping through the streets and tunnels and rivers as she cradles these millions of people in her arms. She's more mature than I gave her credit for, quietly and non-judgmentally allowing her masses to walk all over her and blame her and use her as a stepping stone to becoming what they want to be. Day after day after day she takes beating after beating after beating, and she thrives and blooms and flourishes around her scars, shining so through all the ashes.
And somewhere in the midst of all of that, she sees me and returns the favor.
For every crowded subway ride through Manhattan, she trades me a moment of cobble-laden silence on a Brooklyn evening. And for each gray and dreary morning, a lunchtime seat warmed by sunlight in Meatpacking plaza. One terrifying hurricane in exchange for crisp afternoons spent with old and new friends at the tiniest and best dive bar garden in Red Hook, which I'm so thankful can continue to thrive. We go on like that, me being patient with her as she fusses and fumes, her rewarding me for my time with shy and stolen moments that she's taught me to seek, that I've learned to find. The more time I give, the more she helps me to see.
And it's me, along with the city, that comes into ever-clearer focus.
So tonight I raise a glass to you, sweet city, in honor of our three years together. I've said it before, but it still rings true - in exchange for my residency, I will continue to try, to take it in, to expand, to arrive. And I will know for certain that I am always enough.
And I will never again be alone, not here.