08 October, 2005

Some Things I Won't Miss

I have lived here most of my life. New York City and Washington, D.C. are the only two cities that I have ever lived in. And no, I do not count the very small southern town in North Carolina where I went to college as a city. There where cows and red-necks, but no city.

So this is my city, New York. D.C. I just borrowed for a while.

There is something about New York that gives it a special vibe. Something unique and all it's own. But the city has also drastically changed over the last 20 years that I have known it. I remember when I was 14 and the city was lit with a funkiness that was an undercurrent and swept you up in it's tow. The electric lights from Times Square always caught you off guard and made you forget about necessities and always allowed for a dreamer to do just that. Downtown had an other worldly ebb, a flow that had no real beginning and no real end. There was so much to stare at and wonder about, especially for an artist; a person who takes great pleasure in people watching. Sitting in a cafe on the street in Soho and watching the walkers go by. I would give them stories and lives and interesting adventures and wonder if that could someday be me.

I don't necessarily know when my idea about living here changed. Perhaps it was a gradual occurrence. Somewhere between one let down, a broken heart, a bad night and an un realized dream. Perhaps it was there all along and my youthful exuberance ignored it.

I have often heard from my father and also from my grandfather's generation about how much Brooklyn changed. I would laugh at these stories and think to myself "How much *could* a neighborhood change?" New neighbor's yes, but radically change. Bosh!

But I understand now. That change is inevitable and not always welcome. New York City has changed and drastically in a very short period of time I may add. It feels tired. And used. The city feels like a bad date. Something that you understand when you roll up from the bars at 4:00 am feeling like something bad crawled into your mouth and set up camp. That nasty over smoker feeling in your hair and on your clothes. The way cheap perfume just hangs on and makes you gag.

Walking down a New York City street at any time of the day makes you wonder if anyone notices you at all. Last night I felt a little undone. I found the constant and endless need to do the weave while I walked through and around and about people exhausting. I wondered if the man who stepped in front of me to light his cigarette even recognized that I had to make a sudden shift not to slam straight into him. I even wonder if he cared.

And perhaps that's the thing. The biggest issue. New York City has a population on any given night of 12 million people. All crammed onto one tiny island. All with their own agendas. All with their own insecurities. Who has time to apologize for elbowing you in the head as you get on a train. Who has time to make room for one more person at the table, when the restaurant only has allotment for four. Who has the ability to keep up with the every day when the work week has become hard and the rent is amazingly high. Everyone I know is tired and disappointed and wondering aloud if the choices that they made where the right ones. All those that I come into contact with seem to be on the same path that I am on; finding new meaning in old dreams and figuring out if they can make them possible.

In a city such as New York suddenly nothing seems possible and everything seems difficult and harsh. Sometimes I find it difficult to breath and extremely overwhelming, perhaps only compounded with the fact that in a city of 12 million people it is so incredibly easy to become isolated and ignored.