Several things happened this week that made me miss New York a lot. One was that I read my friend Hila's beautiful piece about leaving New York after living there her whole life, Taking the Girl Out of New York.
I do not have as many palpable memories as she does, only having lived there for four years, but the moments I do remember are so vivid, maybe because the city stands out in such stark relief for me. The way the subway smells when it's cold (not as bad as when it's hot), the way the windows light up with Christmas lights, the funny bridges up high between buildings, somewhere around 24th street. Veselka Pierogies, wet sidewalks, the times cab drivers were friendly, driving through Brooklyn to and from the airport in the early morning hours. The skyline; always the skyline.
I look at my friends' pictures of the city, and I wonder what it would be if I lived there still. (Note: I keep wanting to write there as their. Maybe I'm yearning for possession still?) Aryn is a loose acquaintance, but I see so much of her life through its images, and she's inspired me in several subtle ways. Seeing her kid grow up in the city calls up these deep feelings of wanting my own child to know what it is to be a New York kid.
Anticipating the next season of Girls does it for me too. I've been emailing with my friend Alanna about it this week, and even that correspondence is making me realize just how much the experience of being a young woman in her early 20s in New York is both so universal and so individual, and how perfectly Lena Dunham captures it.
Maybe I'm not so much nostalgic for a place, but for a time. I think this is also universal; in realizing how much we have changed, we long for a time that we feel like we understood ourselves better. But this is simply an illusion of hindsight—it is entirely possible that I will look back at my present moment (in my early 30s now, in a dynamic growth phase in my career and in life) and wonder why I felt so terrified when my life was really so exciting.
Maybe I can do myself the service of extending a hand and saying, "You've got this. Don't worry, it will all work out." Because I do know, deep down, that that's probably true. And the uncertainly of the present moment is what makes it so interesting, and real, and raw.
But I still miss those pierogies, and those sidewalks.