Well, Cleo, this topic was supposed to be covered by a vlog, but, alas; I was not feeling particularly vloggy today, so you shall unfortunately miss out on my beautiful face. (Don’t worry, there’s going to be plenty of that in the next post.) And I promise, this will be the last of my New York-related posts! I hope I am not boring you out of your skull as I scrutinize the city from every angle…
When people ask me what I thought of New York, my first response is generally, “It’s vertical.”
BECAUSE IT IIIIIISSS. Having spent the bulk of my childhood in a sleepy little Wyoming town (population approximately 17,000), the whole…arrangement…of the city was quite
jarring interesting to me. New York doesn’t sprawl, taking up half a state, like I kind of thought it would; it climbs. Every building we entered had these little dinky doors, but shot up at least three or four narrow stories upon entering; and there were buildings stacked on buildings stacked on buildings with the whole thing stacked on top of an underground subway system. It seems the philosophy of the place is when in doubt, go UP.
I also think that the city has been really overglamourized by the media, society in general, etc. Even the “scruffy bits” have been overglamourized in their scruffiness. I’m not really sure exactly what I was expecting in the city, but it was either a squeaky-clean, gleaming glass metropolis, or a sprawling run-down slum of a place with gangs hanging out on every corner and smog hanging, tangible, in the air. I got…neither. (It didn’t exactly smell of roses, though, let me tell ya.) When you break it down and just look at it on its most fundamental level, New York is just…a bunch of people. A bunch of people living in really tall apartment buildings who (seemingly) don’t own cars.
It tries to pretend to be more, I think. Scrawling in my notebook late one night we were there, the phrase “like the medal the city wants to give to itself” popped up–I think I was talking about the medal I was wearing for the whole day. (People looked at me funny. But I had nowhere to put it except around my neck!) Now that we’ve been back for a few weeks, this still resonates with me–as humans, we like to embellish and upholster areas clotted with millions of humans, but ultimately…they’re not “special” or “sacred” or anything of the sort. It’s just a bunch of people in tall buildings in a city that smells really bad.
Ah, but this is sounding pretty pessimistic so far. I didn’t hate the city! In fact, I actually kind of liked it! In a way that leads me to believe that I could possibly live there, not permanently, but perhaps for the duration of college or something of that nature. I dunno. Cities fascinate me–they’re just kind of poetic in some way.
Which leads me to what I loved about the atmosphere (not the literal atmosphere; that stank) of NY; the city is there. I really don’t know if I can explain it here, but it’s more concrete, somehow, more present. On the West Coast, we’ve got our heads in the clouds; we are a region of planners and schemers and dreamers, weaving our daisy chains and singing songs as we yearn to express our creativity. We fantasize constantly, whether we realize it or not. Our surroundings aren’t as integral to our lives as the things that take place inside our minds; but I felt like the inverse was true in New York. Between all the noise, the (somewhat) danger, the crowds, the pigeons, the taxicabs, and the exhaust (did I mention it smelled bad?), you can’t be, in any sense of the term, anywhere but in the city. It’s something of a constant bombardment to the senses–in a good way! There is something to be said for immediacy, and being present.
This isn’t a terribly cohesive post but I had a lot of thoughts I just wanted to blergh (can we make that a verb? please?). And now I will close with a picture of graffiti, because that’s what I do, I take pictures of graffiti, because I can’t help but wonder if Anne-Marie and Martin are still together, and why were they so far from the UK, were they on their honeymoon (what a thoroughly non-romantic place to honeymoon), why did they feel the need to officiate their bond in the railing of the Staten Island ferry…