Sunday, October 4, 2009

Everyone's Your Friend In New York City

There are a few places that I consistently fantasize about visiting. I even fantasize about living there, having a place, getting to explore it. Most of these places are places I have already lived, and wish to return to explore in greater depth, such as Hiroshima, Japan. Some are places I visited, briefly, and would like to experiment with living there, such as Nice, France. The one in the latter category that I have been focused on a lot lately is NY, NY.

I'm not sure why I have had such interest. Something about NYC is fixed in American mythos. It's everything I love about America, diverse, huge, and intense. It has stories that have shaped the rest of the country, and I feel like I know it in a way that most places I have visited I do not. And I know, really, that I don't know it; the mystery adds to the fascination. It isn't a place to live with kids, in my opinion, so I don't imagine I will ever explore it like I want to. I don't have the money or the time to spend a year there, which is what it would take to even begin to understand it.

One reason I am fascinated is that I have become such a city person, here in Seattle. And Seattle, being a small city, makes me want to visit the east coast big brothers that it emulates. The first thoughts of the Americans who came here were on building the NYC of the west. It didn't come close to happening, of course. It's too far away, it didn't have the position as a trading center that NYC had from almost the beginning. Really until the past thirty years, Seattle was barely a city. It has grown, in positive and negative ways. (Light rail! Yay! I-5 is a parking lot! Boo!) But it can never be the beating heart of the country that NYC has been and will likely to continue to be.

Some of this may have to do with the history. But that's not the whole story. Every modern story I see about the city draws me in as well. It's still fascinating. I would love to see the past of the city, but the present excites me too. The vitality of the city, in my awe-struck limited time there, is real. I don't imagine I'll get a chance to really walk the streets in the way I want to, but it's still fun to imagine the place from the perspective of a resident, pavement under my boots, and noise and lights all around.

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