Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Heart New York

I'm currently in NYC for my best friend's wedding. I always say that NYC is like a boyfriend I really loved, like from the bottom of my heart, in a crazy, unreasonable way -- and then he broke up with me. Baby, it is for your own good. This isn't the right time for us. It hurts now darling, but you'll thank me in a few years. It's not you, it's me.

For a very long time, I couldn't watch "Friends" or "Sex in the City" or read forwarded articles from the New York Times -- it was just too painful.

I've been back a few times since I moved. This time though, is the longest since I left. And this time, maybe I am more settled in my own life so I have a different perspective on the city. And it IS like an old love. A deep love. Of a place I know and that brings out something in me that no other city does. It's such a cliche to write about New York in this way and I always used to complain that living in New York was like being in a cult. Everyone had to be blindly on-board or the city wouldn't able to get away with all the things it does. "A studio apt with a view of a wall and only a hot plate for a kitchen for $2500. Hmmm. It's two blocks from the Park? Of COURSE I'll take it!"

Never mind my love affair with New York, it's been so good for me to be in North America. After all the moving and flux of the past few months, being here is the tonic I needed. I did not appreciate how much mental stress is alleviated when you speak the language, know the culture, money, subway system and vibe. Don't get me wrong, I would not give up our international expat lifestyle for the world -- it is just nice to take a break once in a while to recharge my batteries.

My best friend and I have been up and down Madison and 5th Avenue shopping for the perfect accessories for her big day and all the while musing about life. Now and then, we stop for coffee, a chat and some people watching. We ride the subway where all of the layers of the city are crammed in together and jostling for personal space. We walk endless city blocks, passing places that bring back memories and stories of our life here together. Half the time she and I are doubled over laughing and shrieking with glee when one remembers something the other has forgotten. And no one gives us a second look. There are so many crazy people on the street, why do we deserve any special attention? Her fabulous apt on the 31st floor has stunning floor to ceiling windows and a spectacular view of the city and the Hudson river. The energy of the city pours in just like the vibrant sunshine twinkling off the water.

We've been in wedding mode all day, every day and I basically told all my friends here that I am not available until after the wedding. But last night, we really needed a break from it all. We hit one of my all time favourite restaurants in NYC: Raoul's. I don't know what it is about that place but it's been my standard for over 10 years and it always delivers. Tuna tartare, scallops and lobster finished with a creme brulee and an accidental coconut creme caramel that our charming waiter just threw in for fun. "Oops! My bad, ladies. I got your order muddled, you're going to have to eat both."

I left the city last time exactly when I needed to. It was time to go. I had badmouthed the city and talked about all the negatives of living here. It's excessive and superficial, the traffic and pollution are out of control, people are self obsessed and egotistical. How else could I have left it? If I talked about how I am the best parts of myself when I am here, how every part of the city has a different character and feel, how the people are friendly and energetic and inspiring. If I talked about all of that, I would not have been able to let go or move on. Now that I am back, with all the life I have lived since I left, all of those protestations seem so meaningless. My fussy noises seem unnecessary and irrelevant. Now I see that New York and I can still be friends. Friends with benefits? Give me another week here and I'll let you know.

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