The Better Half and I were on the road this past weekend to spend time with friends, with what was supposed to be an overnight stay in New York City. However, the Critter decided that point in our travels needed extending, and thus chose to spike a fever and commence vomiting shortly after our arrival at our hotel. Being somewhat reluctant to put a potentially vomiting child back in the car for several more hours of driving, we opted to spend an extra day in the City.
(We did eventually make it to our final destination for a lovely, if sadly foreshortened, time together.)
(Special shout-out to the incredibly gracious servers at the Brooklyn Diner on Times Square, who handled a repeat performance of preschooler emesis with aplomb and kindness. Seriously, anyone who thinks New Yorkers aren’t nice hasn’t met our waiter there.)
(The Critter is feeling much better now, by the way.)
As I know I’ve mentioned often enough, I used to live in New York City. Most of that time I lived on the Upper West Side, not terribly far from a certain best friend. And like almost all good New Yorkers I avoided Times Square like the plague, because Times Square is awful. (As I put it in a text to one of our eventual hosts, it’s got all of the vulgarity of Vegas, plus grime!) But since the last few trips we’ve taken to the City have been in the company of our small son (whose favorite attraction in all of Manhattan is the giant hand in front of Madame Tussaud’s, visible from the lobby of our usual hotel), it’s the location where we stay because it has the most appeal to a person such as he.
It has been some years since I lived in New York City, but I think I will always consider myself a New Yorker at heart. Thus I chafe at being confined to the one section of town that I unreservedly despise. However, being stuck there did afford a couple of nice little reassurances that I’m still a Manhattan kind of guy in my soul. For example, I have not lost the ability to wend my way speedily through trundling masses of people, which is a necessary skill if you need to be anywhere at all.
With that skill comes an attendant annoyance, which I believe is common to New Yorkers. Attention, tourists — it is wonderful that you visit New York. New York is worth visiting, and your interest (and cash) is appreciated. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, the buildings are tall and impressive! And yes, the City can be disorienting. But if you choose to stand and look up at the tall buildings or pause to consult your map/guidebook, please do not stop to do so in the middle of the sidewalk! A great many people are trying to get around you! It’s not called a sidestand! Step to the side, please, and you’ll be far less likely to evoke the kind of brusque response that has given New Yorkers an unfair reputation for rudeness. Thank you.
So that’s this week’s Question — how have you been marked by some place you’ve lived/some experience you’ve had/ etc. that links you to it for perpetuity, even if you no longer live there/participate in it? What makes it clear that they can take you out of the place, but they can’t take the place out of you? How do you know there’s always somewhere you can go or something you can do that will remind you that you still belong there?