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New York, I Nonetheless Love You


Picture by Jeffery Blum

It’s snowing in New York as I write this. A minimum of, that is what my family members inform me. It doesn’t snow right here. Right here, on the tail finish of the West Indies, within the place the place the Caribbean sea sidles as much as a pounding Atlantic, my winters can barely be known as winters in any respect.

As an alternative of bitter chill, I awake most mornings to zephyr-like breezes, the commerce winds at play off the coast. Palms dance beneath the fats yellow solar, much less relentless than in summer time, however nonetheless bringing sweat to forehead. And within the distance, simply over the arcing highway that results in city, the ocean stretches to the horizon, its salt mist aroma coaxing the physique in direction of perennially heat waters.

Most individuals can be mad to name this place something lower than paradise, not to mention entertain the considered buying and selling eighty-degree temps for sub-zero wind chills. And but, as my inbox piles up with pictures of streets blanketed white, I can’t assist however lengthy for the chilly. And together with that comes a eager for the alleyways and boulevards of my youth.

Exhausting to Love

It’s straightforward to like town in summer time. Avenue aspect eating places and cafes spill onto the sidewalks, the parks turn out to be havens totally free music and dancing our bodies, and it looks as if everybody fills their cups from some by no means ending fountain of cocktails. It’s this attract which F.Scott Fitzgerald managed to seize so completely within the following passage from The Nice Gatsby:

Town in summer time is a promise, a fever dream of rose-colored evenings and delicate, navy-inked nights. However in winter, these colours fade. White snow is rapidly changed by black sleet, if it snows in any respect. January and February can hit like dry ice, turning town right into a desert of concrete towers and chilly air that splinters the lungs. It’s a painful expertise. However that’s what makes it distinctive. It’s straightforward to like town within the summertime. It’s a lot tougher to endure it, not to mention find it irresistible within the winter.

Gone are the fair-weather flirtations. In there place are abandoned streets and bubble jacket stuffed prepare vehicles, the countless shuffling between too sizzling and too chilly, the fixed rearranging of layers. I bear in mind this all too effectively. If summer time in New York is an affair, winter is a relationship stripped right down to its ugly indifference. It’s cursing and questioning why even stay in New York within the first place. Lord is aware of I did my fair proportion of each. But for all my malcontentedness, for all my grievances and begrudging realizations that life might be higher someplace else, it was throughout these moments that I liked town probably the most.

I bear in mind how, simply making it residence after an extended day at work felt like an accomplishment, the way in which strolling right into a heat house made my pores and skin tingle. I bear in mind how each evening out took on a way of urgency— my accomplice and I huddled at bus stops, ready for one to reach; me, craning my neck down already darkened streets looking for the sanctuary of a bar. I bear in mind the glow that these most sacred of areas took on, not simply the neon beckoning however one thing else, the promise of heat inside and outside. And after I’d stroll inside, how the smile of the individual ready there meant all of the extra having braved the chilly and shitty transportation system.

The chilly is the good equalizer. It’s the chill from which blossoms a visceral empathy. Certain, later we’d commiserate over the ridiculous rents we couldn’t afford or the ramshackle state of the MTA, however “cold out there, huh?” was step one in acknowledging our mutual distress.

Exodus

For the previous yr and a half I’ve lived in Puerto Rico. I left town, not as a result of I used to be uninterested in it, however as a result of I wanted to know if life may actually be higher someplace else. And for probably the most half it has been.

There’s merely extra time right here. Extra time to write down, extra time to surf, extra time to search out oneself in areas that appear to exist exterior of time. And now, with the world nonetheless within the throws of pandemic, there’s extra time to take a seat and reminisce in regards to the family and friends that reside on the opposite aspect of the ocean.

Shortly after arriving on the island, I turned thirty. It’s an odd feeling turning thirty in such a beloved, but unfamiliar place, a spot that’s a part of you but, estranged. Thirty-one got here and went in the identical surreal manner, cementing that the numbers themselves aren’t necessary. I don’t really feel any extra thirty-one than I did thirty. What’s totally different is who sees me.

Nostalgia

There’s a principle in quantum physics that matter solely exists in a specific state when it’s noticed. If that is so, then, out right here on the island, below the attention of strangers and acquaintances, I exist in an entirely totally different state than than that of the one that trudged by way of black sleet on Myrtle Ave. That, in these moments the place the seashore crowds fade and the pelican’s amber gaze makes small all beneath it, perhaps I don’t exist in any respect.

However, town is a state of fixed existence, such fixed existence that it may be overwhelming. Certainly it was. However as I watch the snow falling softly in my thoughts’s eye, I can’t assist however miss it: the unhappy notes of jazz trumpet bending round corners, looking for the ears that can carry it to life, the unhappiness that collects within the gutters as 3 am approaches and good instances fade. It by no means feels extra chilly than that second, the blast of frigid wind that hits as you attain the road from the subway, the lengthy stroll residence that awaits.

I suppose, ultimately, I liked town most in these moments as a result of these had been the moments wherein it meant most to like. And despite the fact that I’ve traded in crowded streets for lonely seashores, that love is one thing I maintain with me, unpacking late at evening when my thoughts drifts again in direction of the avenue, to the dimly lit speakeasies and the loving gazes that birthed me anew with each encounter.

New York, I nonetheless love you. I feel I all the time will.



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