All good things must come to an end, and tonight is my last in New York City. My friend Amanda (who co-runs an amazing, but little-known news blog, Wonkistan) has generously let me stay in her apartment and eat all her granola. I’ve just come from a YouTube convention in Orlando too, but I’ll have to blog about that another day.
When I was living on Iona I would see people get off the ferry with their mouths agape; they wanted to visit the island so badly all their lives and finally they had arrived! A ruined nunnery, swarthy little cottages, an oddly-shaped mountain and a looming stone abbey — it was all there, just like they’d seen in pictures and documentaries for years and years.
My island — that of Manhattan — is a little more urban than Iona, but I couldn’t help but compare myself to those pilgrims as I saw the misty skyline of East Harlem through the window of my cab driving over the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Not that this is a spiritual pilgrimage for me by any means, but I’ve spent my whole life watching movies and TV shows set in this city, and more recently reading books with stories so rooted here, that to pluck them from their New York setting would obliterate their meaning.
It means New York is simultaneously alien and eerily familiar to me. I haven’t dealt with these kinds of crowds or this volume of traffic in a long time, but the streets and the buildings and the parks and the bagels are exactly like I know from TV, and haven’t I seen those benches somewhere before? New York feels familiar, but there’s a profound sense of discovery as I walk the streets. It’s kind of addictive: what could there be around that corner? I’ll turn around after just one more block. No, just another block more. Actually, what’s that over there? Better check it out now or I might forget where it is and lose it forever.
I have wanted to visit New York all my life, and this week I finally made it.
Staying with Amanda has been wonderful, and as a New York City native, she has never experienced that sense of re/discovery like I have this week. She was highly amused by my borderline obsession with the squirrels in the park and did not quite grasp the trepidation I felt before using the subway for the first time. Whenever I find something in real life that I saw first on a screen I always try and remember so I can tell her about it, thereby helping her re/discover her city too.
Tomorrow I leave for sunny San Francisco, but I’ve had a wonderful time in New York and I hope to return sooner rather than later. Amanda and I went to a Watsky show, rode the Staten Island Ferry, discovered an AMAZING vegan Chinese restaurant on the Lower East Side with our friend Kassie and had brunch in the West Village with friends.
I also met up with four friends I originally met on Iona. Iona and Manhattan certainly felt close that day.
If you want to check it out, Amanda and I made a video about my squirrel