I am not a New Yorker. I have visited many times. When I was very young, my grandmother nurtured in me a great love for theater which she encouraged by bringing me to New York when I was in my early teenage years to see various shows on and off Broadway. In the end, my love of theater took me to London. I fell in love with the entire UK in my college years. New York was simply too close, and I wanted to run very far away from my life. That, however, is no longer important.  For my daughter, the experience was something different. She loved New York from her earliest visits and so when she grew up, that is where she moved. Five months ago.

I could not imagine living there- the noise, the fast-pace, the crowding, a jungle of concrete and glass – no it was not for me. I changed my mind when I visited my daughter in Brooklyn. I left my hotel in the upper East side and traveled by subway to Brooklyn. It took a really long time. The F train was not running. Fine, fine. I took the D train. It was crowded, missed my stop. Fine. Back one stop. Back to D train to the C train. Got on C train going the wrong way towards Queens, not Brooklyn. Great. I stink at this.

I never had this trouble with the tubes in London. Finally, with the help of some of the natives, found the C train going the right way. Boarded a car with no air conditioning. It was hot that day. Ugh, and the C train was running local. No idea what that meant. Only it took longer to get to my stop in Brooklyn. I did, after three stops, garner the courage to exit the hot car and change into another car. Much cooler. At long last I arrived in Brooklyn.

What a lovely place. My daughter greeted me with a phalanx of her friends. The girls suggested Kate take me to Brooklyn Heights for dinner and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. The afternoon had turned breezy, perfect summer day, not too hot, not too cold. I agreed. I am glad I did.

My first thought of the Brooklyn Bridge came of watching the television on 9/11 – sixteen years ago, and the people watching the towers fall, then the crowds marching across the bridge as it was the only way for them to get home that day.  Sixteen years and that day still seems a moment ago. There are no words for the grief of that terrible day. All alone in our castle burning to death.

Something inside of me healed just a bit when I made the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with my daughter that August evening at sunset. New York survived. Yes, the world is a mess. It always is. Still, despite the horrors of the world, there is still beauty and some of it is created by the hand of man. How easily I fall in awe of the mountains and sea, but I looked at Manhattan with new eyes that evening. How extraordinary.

New York really is a pentacle of human achievement, people from every possible spot on the planet, gathered in one place where buildings reach up and try to touch the heavens and little parks and ponds are dotted between them. Impossible dreams realized by the hands of thousands upon thousands of squishy, short-lived, sometimes mean and greedy, often cruel, but still amazing and full of hope, people.

Yes, all of our favorite sins twist and interlock in equal measure to the grandeur of the architecture and technology in an endless macabre dance that gives New York its personality, like some fallen god that still holds great power and sway.  Words fail me, but I now understand why my daughter has fallen so in love with New York. For all mankind’s failings, for all the tragedy and noise and dirt and pollution, for all our petty wars and disputes, the world is full of so much wonder limited only by our imaginations. And New York offers its share of all of that.

3 thoughts

  1. “there is still beauty and some of it is created by the hand of man”

    … thank you so much for this. I feel very much the same way as what you’re expressing here. There is an overwhelming story we tell ourselves, as humans (or have for the past three centuries, anyway), that history is an evolution from something to something else. I’m with you, though – “Yes, the world’s a mess. It always is.” There is comfort in that.


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