On the 12th anniversary of September 11th, I’d like to share with you a love letter to the city that loved me for 10 years as a resident and my entire lifetime as a fan and lover.
Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to live in New York City. I’ve loved the city (it will always be THE city) from afar since I was taking field trips to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in elementary school. Once I reached 8th grade I knew I wanted to attend college in New York and suddenly put all my energy into making that a reality.
I had just started my senior year of high school when 9/11 happened. I was walking into AP Chemistry and my friend Laura had somehow heard that a plane flew into the World Trade Center. I immediately wanted to find out everything I could. I asked my Chemistry teacher to turn on the news but he thought that event was too implausible to be true (I definitely wish he had been right about that_ and so it wasn’t until after that class that we knew what happened. And then the rest of our school day was focused on it. I was glued to the TV. I knew people attending college in the city, I knew classmates whose parents worked in the city. We were four hours away but it still felt close. This was a city I planned to move to very shortly. This was my almost-home and the only thing I’d been thinking about for several years. It had to be okay.
I got a lot of questions about my decision after these events. “Are you still applying to NYU?” “Do you feel safe going to New York now?” “Your parents are still letting you apply?” The answer to all of these questions was a resounding yes.
I arrived to New York the day after I turned 18 and moved into my dorm. Like most new college kids (I assume) I was pretty terrified. But I took a walk with my new roommate around the Village and I realized I was home. And when we went to an NYU orientation event and the last song was “New York, New York” – we all danced and we knew we were here now. We were in this together. Even at my loneliest in New York, I never felt alone.
I spent ten years as a resident of New York City (almost to the day) and now I’ve spent almost a full year not living there. New York is the only home I’ve known as an adult and though I am in Los Angeles now, New York will always be home. (Don’t worry, L.A., I love you too but we’re just getting to know each other.)
I just came back from spending a handful of days in the city after being away for a year and it was so easy. It was as if no time had passed. I took the Amtrak down the Hudson from Albany (one of my favorite trips) and I got into Penn Station (a really horrid place – especially when compared to Grand Central – but still not without its charm) and I felt at home. I felt calm. I spent time putzing around the city, and listening to people’s conversations and watching new students arrive to NYU and I felt at peace. New York survived. New York is still magic.
The last song played at my wedding was “Empire State of Mind” and I just attended a wedding that ended the same way.
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do.
(Though I’m also a fan of Liz Lemon’s “concrete bunghole where dreams are made up, there’s nothing you can do.”)
I love you, New York.
(Main image via ShutterStock, Empire State Building pic and Brooklyn Bridge pic my own)