Wednesday, October 05, 2016


I'm writing this from a coffee shop near my high school, and not so far from the apartment my husband and I will most likely be moving into, in a building we'd also lived in once before. (No, not in Tribeca. The other direction.) Until "most likely" becomes definitely, I'm staying with my parents, and sorting out all the usual relocation checklist items before the catching up portion begins.

New York has been a bit of an emotional whirlwind, to put it mildly. Unlike Toronto, which is still a blank slate in that regard, here, every location reminds me of something. All of Carnegie Hill puts me back at 11 years old. Downtown is more complicated. Being near my high school doesn't much make me feel like I'm in high school, because I'd lived near it for part of grad school. But it does make me think the years between mid-late grad school and now somehow didn't happen. Which... they sure did, and a lot happened during them! But, like, this iced coffee from the place that was always nice to sit in but a bit more expensive than I'd brace myself for, while a tiny bit less expensive than I'd have guessed, tastes exactly as I remember it from 2010 or so. All time is one.

And then there's the obvious. The globally obvious. I have no political agenda on this, no National Convention speech to give, but was an 18-year-old kid about to leave the city to start college on 9/11, and being right there still unnerves me. Yes, despite living next to it for two years. I'd read about the Oculus, and was near it and figured I should enter. But the mere act of walking into a building marked "World Trade Center," in that location, pretty tremendously freaked me out. I normally find malls and mall-stores and such very calming environments. (Not actually shopping, just walking around in them.) This, though, not so much. I remembered being in the mall-type area beneath the towers a couple days before 9/11, in 2001, and didn't panic, exactly, but let's say didn't stay long enough to find out whether said mall did or did not contain a Sephora.

Mainly, though, I'm just struck by the fact that New York is a hometown. It isn't often discussed as one, but it is. This is the only place where I fit in culturally without trying. Where I can immediately tell who's part of which subculture. Where I effortlessly know the rules of stranger chitchat. (A group of women told me about a free pop-up manicure. A woman with a pink poodle told me Bisou would look good blue. One woman in the Uniqlo dressing room told me not to get that size jumpsuit; another asked me about the fit of a slipdress she was trying on. Note: I do not know any of these women personally.) I know how to cross the street here. I know where to get $5 lunch. All of this is even before getting into the people aspect of this. 

No comments: