Ever since moving to Park Slope, I take the Q or the N or the D over the Manhattan Bridge and I always try go get close to a window to see the Brooklyn Bridge. There aren’t many typical New York things that I like. I’m not a fan of Times Square, though, I spent years of my life handing out flyers there. I haven’t been to the Statue of Liberty since I was twelve. I actually love Broadway shows but I can never find the time to go. But I love the Brooklyn Bridge and I always make sure to catch a glimpse every time I can. Anytime anyone I know asks for recommendations of things to do in New York, I always say walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
I want to say that I look because it represents human achievement, that it has inspired poets and artists and it’s not even two hundred years old. Yeah, I guess that stuff is true. But, basically, I look at it because I can. Because I live in New York.
Today marks seventeen years since I moved to New York. I moved into my first apartment on July 1st, 1999. Next year will be eighteen years and I’ll have lived here longer than I lived in Rochester, NY where I grew up.
As I understand it, people in their early twenties who come here spend most of their time in bars and clubs, making mistakes. I think I did it wrong. When I moved here at twenty-two, I just took walks. I lived on 82nd Street. I would take the 4 or the 5 to Union Square and then just head off somewhere, walking through the Village, down around the World Trade Center. Sometimes, I would hop on the Staten Island Ferry as the sun was setting so I could ride out there and watch a sunset and then come back towards lower Manhattan in the dark when all the buildings were lit up. Walking around New York made me feel like I was in a movie and it never got old.
Over the past year, I had a job right next to the Empire State Building. I would eat lunch in front of the main branch of the New York Public Library, right next to the stairs where Ray, Peter, and Egon ran out.
I’ve been lucky with apartments. I lived on the Upper East Side (though, I guess it’s technically Yorkville) for one year and thought it was the Manhattan right out of Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese. I was wrong about that and wrong that those two Manhattans were even remotely alike. I didn’t live in Williamsburg before it was cool, I lived there right when it was cool and that was pretty cool. Also, there aren’t as many strollers in Park Slope as you think. Close, though.
I’ve lived in New York long enough for New York to become small. I have my neighborhood where I live where I have my coffee shop, a few supermarkets, and a bar on the corner. I have my theater’s neighborhood. I have whichever neighborhood I happen to be working in at any given time. I know the rest of New York is there but I’m a little too busy to go enjoy it.
I went to Italy last year. I got to see Rome and Florence and I wondered what it must be like for people to live among all of those ruins, all of that amazing art. What are their daily lives like?
I’ve lived in New York for seventeen years. I think I have an idea.