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The City That Keeps Its Promise

Submitted by Jon M. on March 5, 2010 – 2:40 pmComments
by Jon Mossberg, author of Jon Blogberg.

Photo courtesy of the Bain Collection of the Library of Congress

Every time I leave New York, I’m reminded how much easier life is everywhere else. In case you’ve been trapped here too long, let me tell you how it is out there: you can drive to work in the morning (and park in a parking lot!), live in a house (with stairs and attics and everything!), and buy everything you need in one stop at Target (a gallon of milk and a pair of underpants? Sign me up!) Yes, with its rats and roaches, squalor and malaria, high rents and low square-footage, New York is a city that doesn’t love you back. And yet, New York is true to itself and it keeps its word, and the longer I spend away from it, the more it calls to me.

Sure, there’s the culture and the art and the nightlife (and the thousands of other things going on that I don’t take advantage of because they take place outside my apartment). But for me, the appeal is a little less tangible. There’s something about just being here, immersed in the crowds and the flow of everyday life, that I think is captivating. It’s the subtlety of subway-etiquette, and the eye-rolls at the tourists who don’t get it. It’s the poetry of people walking on the sidewalk, weaving in and out and between one another with a certain assuredness and grace. It’s the delightful promise that there’s always someone out on Broadway at any time of night, on their busy way from one place to another.

Maybe that’s why, when (for reasons that are way too interesting to tell you all about) I was stranded and lonely in Times Square late last Friday night, I felt comforted by the city’s electric embrace. I stood on the corner for a half an hour, (like a flower growing slowly in a time-lapse picture while all the other stuff goes on around it in fast motion - except way more manly than that), watching bemusedly as couples and tourists walked by, transfixed by two snow plows pushing the last remains of a storm around. It felt as though I had fallen down, and the city had caught me. It might be brutal, it might be rough, but one thing’s true about New York City – it’s always there for you.

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  • Celia
    Live in London and feel it's somewhat similar (not to dilute your point). Sure, the buildings are crumbling and everyone whines about the weather, but there's some sort of underlying electricity. And a sense that you're really lucky to call this place home.
  • Elizabeth Harris
    Hey Jon- I'm a fellow blogger from choiceeffect....LOVING this post- I feel the same way. Especially about just being in NYC....even if you don't leave your apt...and also- how is it possible for a place to feel so much like home and yet still so strange?
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