An ode to Manhattan
“In my dreams, we fly away from all the palm trees of this place […] to a city that never sleeps.”
– Sayanything, Dreaming of Manhattan (the drummer went to elementary school with me — crazy)
As I contemplate the move to New York City my excitement only grows. I’ve been thinking about the city I am leaving behind and the city I am entering — thinking all the more about it because of how uncertain my future there is.
I thought that I’d reflect on my thoughts about New York now, before they are tempered by any sort of reality of living in the city. I am sure the beginning will be a beautiful whirlwind, and the honeymoon will last until some particular moment when I arrive back at my apartment at 5am, having been robbed on the subway and unable to let myself in, with someone’s vomit or some dirt sloshed onto my new interview slacks, when I will curse the day I decided to move. And then the moment will pass and I will be a citizen of the city.
I have seen it happen time and time again with visitors to Los Angeles. When my friend Abra moved here, she would tell me excitedly of lovely cafes and sunny beach weather. I wondered why she didn’t seem to notice the traffic, or the congestion and disgusting displays of wealth. Did it take a long time to get there, I would ask, wondering if she saw the LA that I saw. And then one day it took her 1.5 hours to return from a cafe–and the honeymoon was over.
But the honeymoon is the best part. And right now, my Manhattan is bright and always moving. A playland for the people, safe and enthralling in every moment–around every corner waits another person and another adventure. Full of people searching, people lost, and things to be found. Life everywhere — far too many people and buildings for this city to lack anything. Real, egalitarian, squashing class difference to the beat of shoes on pavement. Real – for all its makeup and pretension it is there in the flesh. Its energy beats a creative pulse – every thought, word, and action has more passion because it is in New York. It is not a city that pretends.
Superficial. Style-obsessed, judgmental. Squalor mixed with riches but in the end it’s all squalor, and it’s all rich. Hustling. Every moment of every day, hustling. People so much more comfortable in their own skins than I am yet, exuding confidence. Barely scraping by on ramen then blowing $60 on a night out because it just. feels. right. Flings, secret encounters, chance meetings, a thousand little corners to be with the people I love.
What I hear is cold and unfeeling, lonely and inhuman. How? How? I take that as a challenge.
Ask me again in six months…
Saint Patrick’s Day is my last night in Los Angeles. We’ll be at Snakepit on Melrose from 8ish on if you can make it.