Empire State of Mind

I’m back! And ready to resume blogging like a normal person. Being at home was lovely and relaxing, but once you have been bitten by the New York bug, there is nothing like returning to the city. Here are three things to celebrate:

1. I just purchased and watched this movie the other day and it was great. It was created by the same people who organized Paris j’taime and is pretty much the same in concept and format: a bunch of different directors do short vignettes on love and the city. It’s not the fastest-paced movie ever, but it’s gorgeous and definitely accessible even if you don’t know much about New York. That being said, there are all kinds of little nods and winks to the city that make the movie particularly charming to those of us who love New York.

2. “New York, Concrete jungle where dreams are made of / There’s nothing you can’t do / Now you’re in New York / These streets will make you feel brand new / the lights will inspire you” I now make a habit of listening to Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind every time my plane approaches JFK. Look at the Manhattan skyline from above. You’ll know that everything about this song is true.

3. There are lots of cliches about New York. And as a New Yorker, I feel like we often ignore them or dismiss them as part of a naive fantasy kept alive by over-zealous Midwesterners wandering around Midtown in safari vests triumphantly wielding telephoto zoom lenses and street-vendor hot dogs as if this gives them a new, gritty perspective on the city. However, there are moments when I see something that is so New York that I cannot help but get a gooey feeling in my heart and remember how amazing our city is. Last night I was walking to a friend’s apartment a few blocks away. On the way, I passed this little cafe/deli place, as always, but last night there was a scene that could have been a postcard. There were about ten men of widely varying ages and about six different ethnicities huddled around a backgammon game. They could not have been dressed more differently or seemed less likely to be gathered together. Yet there they were, completely absorbed in the game and each other, laughing at each other and taunting each other at every move in the game. I had to smile as I walked by because on some level I really do think there’s something that unites everyone who lives in New York. As different as we may seem and as much as we piss each other off on a daily basis, ultimately there’s something that draws all of us to the city. I’m glad to be back.

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