I’ve been looking around lately at where I am, I think because I know I’m leaving soon. (I’ll be away for a month-long stay at an artists colony in the California mountains—and I leave in March!) I didn’t grow up here in New York City, but I’ve always been drawn to this city. Really I can’t imagine a better place for me anywhere else in this world. Maybe that will change when I see San Francisco for the first time very soon, but until then…
I think it must be in my blood to love this city, ever since both branches of my family came here through Ellis Island and settled here (Brooklyn, Washington Heights). The city lives in me beyond that, from when I was little, when my parents worked in Manhattan, and I’d come from the mountains down to visit at the factory, romanticizing every moment, even the guarded walks through the Port Authority to get to the top level of the parking garage where we always parked the van, even the thunder of the sewing machines on the factory floor and the soot-covered windowsill where at four, five years old I’d gaze down from far above at the flood of yellow cabs in the street and imagine one day getting to ride in one. (My father’s side of the family owned a small flag-making business near Union Square.) It was a longtime dream of mine to live “downtown”—and though E and I couldn’t make it come true when we moved here for six months when we were both 19 (the only apartment we could afford in Alphabet City was full-on frightening so we moved to a cheaper place on 100th Street), it did finally come true after grad school, when my cushy university-subsidized housing ended upon graduation and we abandoned Morningside Heights for Greenwich Village.
So now, here I am. And my walk-up apartment might be tiny and dark and more than we can afford even with the rent stabilization, but lately I’ve been thinking that I am where I’ve always wanted to be. I’ve been wandering the streets of my neighborhood—through all its layers of history, which I adore imagining and reading about—thinking of how happy I am to be here. How here I am: writing a book under contract; freelancing in book publishing and being a part of making other writers’ books come to life; writing in coffee shops, often with friends; walking absolutely everywhere so I rarely have to go above 14th Street.
And yes, this all may be temporary, because I can’t know for sure what will happen with my new book proposal (fingers crossed). And sure, when I think of our financial reality I get very, very scared… but here, in this moment, you could say I’m perfectly OK.
I’m just appreciating what I have right now while I’m here having it.
For now, for today, you will find me revising my novel here: