For years and years I took biannual trips to the California coast. We spent a lot of time in Carlsbad when I was young, and we slowly graduated to Newport Beach once we got older... and after the Carlsbad trip of 2003 when everyone except me got sick. Three weeks after returning to Utah, my kidneys failed for no reason. That was the last time for almost a decade we stayed in Carlsbad.
I always wanted to live in Southern California with the palm trees and beaches and traffic jams. It wasn't until after I stopped driving that I realized California is a car state, just like Utah. It's possible to get around without a car, but it's less pedestrian friendly. Happenstance led me East in my later twenties and I realized I wasn't just born in the wrong geographical region, I was born on entirely the wrong side of the country.
This morning I woke up at 6:30. That never happens to me on a Saturday anymore. My alarm was set for seven so I could finish packing and get ready and leave for the airport and my Sarah Lawrence trip by quarter to nine. I couldn't quiet my running mind for even a half hour more because I was going back the New York City today. I was going home.
"Welcome home" is exactly what Nick texted me after my plane landed. Seeing the written word "home" in relation to New York made me giddy inside. Home is exactly what I want New York to become.
In the six weeks since my pleasure trip to the City, I've dreamt and daydreamed and thought about the city every day. My cousin said to me upon our return to Utah in May that she'd never felt more at home than when she was walking the streets of New York. Now, sitting in my thirty-sixth floor hotel room in Midtown, watching evening turn to dusk turn to twilight turn to nighttime, and taking photos at each stage of ensuing darkness as the lights of the city come on, I wonder how I'm supposed to leave in seven days and go back to my little life in the claustrophobia of a wide desert-mountain valley.
Cabs honk on 34th Street below my window. The Freedom Tower glitters - it literally is glittering - in the distance, Madison Square Garden - which isn't a square at all - rests on the corner across the street and below. Traffic in Midtown was a beast this evening. There were crowds of people on 34th and construction blocking off lanes.
I'm writing this while I wait for Nick. I was going to go out, discover Midtown, but looking at the view from my window the city stole my breath and entirely energized and inspired me to write. That's what this trip is about, after all, writing. So I'm getting a start now because I couldn't walk out the door and into the city without writing down the words it's putting in my mind.
Yesterday at lunch with Rod and Jen and Rebecca from work, Jen asked me how I can hate crowds of people and love New York. I just smiled, shook my head, shrugged my shoulders. To me, New York isn't crowded; it's a community. All the cogs work together to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. It sounds cliched, I know, but I couldn't explain it to Jen and can't seem to fully explain it now.
What I should have told her is that despite eight million people living on a tiny island with thousands of cabs and billions of pigeons, despite rent that is more costly than a house payment in Utah, despite the grime and noise and singularity that can come out of it, New York just feels like home. It feels like my
And one day, I will. I don't know when, and I don't know how. All I know is that I will.
A John Updike quote says "A true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding." If the facticity of this quote holds, I am already a true New Yorker. Because I know when I board a plane back to Salt Lake next Saturday - even though I'll be missing my kitty and the rest of my shoes and my family - I will feel like I do, in some sense, have to be kidding.