We recently bought a house in Brooklyn and thus committed ourselves to New York City. I can finally proudly say that I am a New Yorker and my son will be born and raised a New Yorker. I struggled with this idea for a while. I thought of all that we need to give up to live in New York. The comfort of having a garage, the back yard for playing and running, the quiet peace of nature. I do miss those things but when I think back on my suburban life, I did not appreciate the wide open roads with farms for miles until I moved far away from them.
I enjoy my travels to wild places where nature is not so bound by humans. I imagine myself living in places like that. Places where I would rise with the sun and harvest a papaya from my back yard for breakfast (like I used to in Hawaii). Go for an evening swim in the sea. I know that one day, I will live in a place like that. My husband and I are not ones for any permanent roots.
When we land at the airport in NY, we are assaulted by the grayness of this place. The sky that reflects the concrete all year-long. What are we doing here, suckling from the grid. But then we drive up to our street. I see the people walking on the street by our house. Their faces. Their partners and children. I see myself in them. I see the eyes of New Yorkers and I realize I am home. No one lives in New York for the luxury of it, or the Broadway shows, or Times Square or the weather. No one lives in New York for the convenient life. We live in New York for the people. New Yorkers.
I look around on the street and I see the New York eyes. They come in all shapes and sizes but they have the same depth. I enjoyed my travels but no place has those eyes. I look at them and feel the kinship only known to me here. The eyes have a story to tell. They have stayed in New York to live that story.
Last night was another reason. In the short ten years that I have been here, I have seen neighborhoods evolve. The rise of the Bushwick artist that I experienced last night was just one example. I am constantly discovering new places that are alive and breathing in the newness of our time. New York does not take the “New” in its name for granted. It is a breeding nest for the ‘new’ to hatch and incubate.
After five months of Miami last year, I came back to New York and breathed again. I walked with a bounce in my step with Isaiah in the stroller singing the “Empire State of Mind” all day long. Now I do not walk around singing it, I walk around feeling it.