New York is both one of the most visited and one of the least understood cities in the world. Poor New York, with its gentle smile and sunny streets, with its old buildings and delicious pizza slices and hot dogs. Being a mere tourist in New York was never an option for me. It’s vain, I know. It’s a common vanity, though. I have always thought, like many others before, that New York somehow belonged to me. I felt that I had already conquered it through my wild dreams about being Carrie Bradshaw, Blair Waldorf, Hannah Horvath or even Elaine Benes. I could not yet make the distinction between wanting a city and actually needing it. It’s not about the Empire State Building or the Brooklyn Bridge or the Statue of Liberty. It turned out that I needed New York because it is magical and miserable, lonely and friendly, the smallest and biggest city on Earth, all at the same time and in the same places.
There’s poetry in the Laundromats. There’s poetry in Americans not owning washing machines and taking their clothes in enormous bags to the Laundromat across the street.
There is a living and last dying breath at each and every step.
Garbage bins and the smell of discarded food in the summer, the homeless people asking you for a cigarette, the drag queens in West Village and their fishnet stockings, the men wearing fancy furs and high-heeled shoes, the never ending tall buildings on Fifth Avenue, the noise and the silence, the smiles and the compliments you get, the subway rides at 2 A.M.
The expensive Upper East Side restaurants, the Dry Cleaners, the cheap Chinese restaurant around the corner with the Russian business men having dinner right next to you, the Chinese chef smoking outside.
The unaffordable yellow cabs you almost never take, the darkness and coldness of the subway stations, Grand Central late at night when you’re already drunk, an American student telling you how you’re a sophisticated European while dancing in a lesbian bar.
The six dollars wine that tastes like water, the shiny thrift stores in Williamsburg, The Bronx you only see written on the train you take home, the Sarah Jessica Parker visiting your school, the Hanne Gabi casually passing by in Union Square.
The celebrities you’ll never get to see, the Mexican restaurant with eighty five dollars oysters, the Gristedes where Patrick Bateman was supposed to shop, the Liquor store on Lexington with its broken neon sign.
The Thai place where you had too much curry, the Taco Bell where you ate your lunch right before leaving New York, the Penn Station with its million suitcases.
And the apocalyptic advertising signs in Times Square that only announce the actual beginning of your world.
Sleep tight New York. Many will never get to see you, even if they come here. It will be our little secret.