Thursday, April 24, 2014

anniversary

Eleven years ago, I moved to New York, this city I am still living in, that in many ways I feel married to. I have dated some guys while I have lived in this city, been in love with a couple of them, thought I would marry one of them. It didn't last with any of them. I am alone on these streets walking from here to there, alone until I realize that this is my man, this is my love, this is who I am married to.

I used to dream about moving to this city as a child. It seemed cool, exotic, slightly dangerous. It held the promise of everything my suburban upbringing seemed to lack. I imagined some bohemian life of poetry and cocktail glasses clinking all the time and conversation until the early hours. The city is and is not like those fantasies. It is whatever you want it to be, whatever you make of it.

A lot has changed. I have. New York has. Bars I used to like no longer exist. Good friends have moved other places. I sometimes wonder how they did it, how anyone could leave this. And then there are days when I don't wonder that, days when I wonder whether I may soon some day leave all this, the city I love erased more and more each month, bookstores closing left and right, record stores all gone, frozen yogurt places and drugstores on every block multiplying. The diviness that I love requiring more and more seeking.

But you can look at these signs of change, 16 Handles and Duane Reades, and focus on them, get depressed about things, or you can look at the gorgeous limestone and brick buildings that this city is made of. You can look at the beautiful and ugly people that walk up and down these streets, all of them walking with places to go, determined. You can look up from your own circular thoughts and see a man who makes something in you crumple because he is so goddamn sexy. You can wonder where he goes out, where he came from, and where he is headed to. You can wonder this until another person catches your eye, which will happen not too soon after if you are alive to the environment around you, if you are open to this city and what it has to offer. You can see the confidence with which that woman in that nice trenchcoat marches down the street. There is an energy here that I love, that is somehow part of the landscape here.

Last year, unhappy with the direction my life had been taking, I decided to make some changes. I applied to school for advertising, where I am now writing this, from an industrial building on the Dumbo waterfront overlooking the Manhattan Bridge. I got a tattoo on my wrist of this date, 4/24, to always remind me how I felt when I moved here, with what enthusiasm and dreams I had at that point, how hungry I was to take on things. I have gotten that back. You can't be lazy here. Or, you can, and you will be unhappy. But it's about staying hungry. We walk fast for this reason - there is palpable hunger out there in these crowds - it's invigorating, something that gives me charge.

It's amazing to look at the sun shining on the East River below and to follow its shorelines, seeing the outline of lower Manhattan, thinking of all the people who have been here over the centuries, all of them hungry for the promises this city holds.

New York, I love you. I am not going to let you down. I am going to be the man you love.

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