This weekend I read a great op-ed by Jeremiah Moss of the blog Vanishing New York, http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/
He talks about his quest to find the iconic diner in Edward Hopper’s painting, Nighthawks and his realization that there’s a good chance it never really existed.
He ends the article beautifully:
“It seems the longer you live in New York, the more you love a city that has vanished. For those of us well versed in the art of loving what is lost, it’s an easy leap to missing something that was never really there.”
It made me into that nostalgic mood and got me thinking. Especially since I’ve been having such mixed feelings about this city. I grew up here and have only been away for college – and even then, I spent a good deal of my mental energy pining away for the city.
It’s changed since I grew up here – the way I feel here, less a part of everything. I think it’s because my parents have since retired to long island, my best friend has moved to San Francisco and my close knit high school circle disbanded several years ago and all the memories feel like they’ve evaporated.
It makes me think that maybe my childhood, my friends – all of that made this city for me. Sometimes I wish that I still lived in the bubble that was new york for me.
I know if I were to leave, I would think about this city all the time – I would idealize it, dream of the trains and the streets, the people, everything. And yet, I still feel this tug to some unknown destination.
People ask me sometimes what it was like growing up here – how it was different – and I usually say, oh, it probably wasn’t that different from what your experience was like. Just more opportunities to see and do unique things.
But the more I think about it, the real answer is that this city has become the major framing device for how I see my identity – so much of the pride I feel is because of growing up here, absorbing everything and being part of such a pulsing fabric of people and experiences.
I think what I’ve meant to say with all this is that this article resonated with me, because New York occupies so much of my mental head space.
It’s a city that you can impress your ideas and consciousness onto – whatever you want this city to be to you, it is.