Saturday, April 16, 2011
For some reason I am still obsessed with New York City. I have this romanticized notion of New York, similar to Woody Allen's character in Manhattan. To me, New York is Metropolis and Gotham all in one. It has been leaving its impression on millions and millions for hundreds of years.
I've dated many girls who have moved here from small towns and suburbs. I love that cliche of the small town girl who dreams of life in the big city. She finally realizes her dreams and is overwhelmed by all its audacity. In the U.S. we have this anti urban attitude. We put this emphasis on small towns and suburbs, the quintessential American dream of a house on a quiet suburban street. We've neglected our cities unlike many other countries who celebrated them. New York remained for so long seen as an eyesore in the fold of the American landscape. Americans hated it, mocked it, were afraid to go to it. They called it a cesspool or urban decay. And New York lost population for the 50 years as did virtually every other large American city. Only recently has the trend reversed.
For me growing up in New York, there was never a dream of a house in the suburbs. I liked my high rise apartment with the view of the skyline out my window. Why would I ever want to replace that with a bunch of suburban houses and trees? The city to me was a place of excitement. It has life and energy. Taking the train into Manhattan and emerging out into a "Metropolis" of sorts gave me the impression of what Clark Kent might have felt when he left Smallville, although not quite as dramatic. Suddenly you are in a giant city and you realize how small your are in this world. This allure has attracted many a small town folk, and I think I'd be one of them if I had such a past.
What does New York represent to me? It represents an American dream, American ingenuity, American diligence. Not long after New York was founded (then of coarse New Amsterdam), there was a great migration to move out west where people settled in mostly in small, sparsely situated towns. This gave birth to the rural lifestyle that is so characteristic of early American life. This rural, small town lifestyle somehow became the "real" America, that so many patriots and politicians try to use as their badge of American authenticity. The big cities back east were already becoming over populated cesspools of filth, disease and of coarse, immigrants. This can't be the "real" America. No "real" Americans live in a log cabin, in a tiny town, they know their neighbors and go to church on Sunday.
So there I be, in the big city. You might see me riding the subway, or stretching my neck to see the top of a new skyscraper. You might see me jaded and blue, or you might just be lucky enough to see me crack a smile.