I love New York City. Ever since the first time I came here as a small child (age 9) I knew that the city was going going to play a major roll in my life. As I grew older, I took every chance to go to NYC. In college, I made frequent trips into the city by train to visit shows or museums, excursions that were required by some classes. Those trips helped me familiarize myself with the streets, the neighborhoods, the Burroughs, the subway.
I remember the first time I came into the city all alone to visit a friend. It was also the first night I slept in NYC. I was 19, and it was summer right before I turned 20, coming into NYC to visit a friend who graduated from college the year before. I was nervous. But I remember waking up early and listening to the cars outside the window of his little apartment, and thinking to myself: I could totally live here.
After college, I worked in NYC. I was among the thousands of New Jersey-ians that commuted on the train every day. I worked in midtown, the village, Chelsea, and the upper west side. I worked long hours, got paid almost nothing, and still I enjoyed and was proud of the fact that I had found work in the city. I began dating a man who lived in the city and then a solid 80% of my time was spent in and around manhattan. I was living the dream, or so I thought.
Then something changed. Despite feeling at home and familiar in places like Penn station, or the New York Pubic Library, or Grand Central Station, or Port Authority, or Times Square, Canal St, or Harlem, etc. I started to resent the city. The gray scale of the, well everything; the biting wind in winter as it comes barreling down the avenues; the stress that oozes off of people and sticks to you as you get jostled around on busy crosswalks; the fashionistas who sit in parks and eat their over-price, under-flavored, tiny salad just so they can be seen in their outfit, with their tablet, in the park; the fake-ness of everyone; the jobs that require you to spent and extra 2 hours a day commuting just for the honor of saying you work in manhattan; finding out that Brooklyn is the only sort of affordable place to live but that meaning that you had to live with a bunch of hipsters and then become labeled as one yourself by default. It all just seemed like bullshit.
I worried that my love affair with NYC was ending or that I wasn’t really the city mouse I had proclaimed to be for so long.
Then I found Tel Aviv. As it turns out, I am the city mouse after all; I just hadn’t found my city yet. I will always love NYC, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. But it’s just not my city. It feels so foreign and yet familiar at the same time. Where are the bikes? Where are the men pushing baby strollers? Where are the people just enjoying coffee on the bench?
Yesterday was Friday (יום שישי) and I missed the feeling of the slowing down into the weekend. Today is Shabbat and I can hear the traffic outside, even though it’s 9:00AM. Where are the birds?
I’m having fun here with Laura but I’m starting to get very homesick. I miss my apartment, my friends, the food, hearing Hebrew everywhere, and my life. I miss my city.
Tomorrow is my last full day of the trip, then Sunday night I’ll be homeward bound! This trip was the perfect amount of time.