In for my second round with Gotham, with 13 years and counting, I feel like I may be slightly qualified to write about this point: The costume of attitude, and of course clothes, that we New Yorkers don to stress our exalted status in the cosmos.
Like me, Susan Sawyers, a great blogger on The Huffington Post, has recently made the flip from Cali to Gotham, and wrote about her experience for the past nine months. And I have to say, we Manhattanites did not fare so badly, but not so well.
But even those of us who aren't exactly native, but aren't exactly newbies, still feel the sting, and often, when we step out of line. Like the woman with the Parents League, who after I called to find out nursery school options for The Rabbit, informed me I had missed all the deadlines for any "good" school and asked, "What were you thinking?" In my stressed out state, having spent the past 4 months buying our new place in the Lower East Side, I told her, "Moving." She seemed to think that meant to Gotham, rather than between its zip codes, and softened her stance.
I remember the night we arrived back in New York. Mine for a second tour of duty, The Prince for his first. We were holed up in a midtown hotel, a semi-luxurious place with sweeping views of aggressive Times Square, and had arrived an hour earlier from London where we had lived for the past year. I remember staring out at the street below, and knowing, as The Prince did not, the city armor I would have to painfully grow back.
New York is an incredible place. And as Susan writes, there has been much already penned about it. And yes, we have extraordinary art, music, the best in the world of much. But really, when you come home after work, after school, does it matter if the view from your living room window is the Empire State Building or twin birch trees?
I know what I think.
I also know that I can't ever completely shed my New York skin until, or if, I leave this place if I don't want to feel battered and bruised each day. But I can try and make it a softer landing for those who arrive like I did the first time, launched into a city that felt like a crowded 6 train during rush hour — no one, please god, wants you to try and squeeze in. Somehow, though, they always, albeit begrudgingly, make room.