New York Preferred

Ah, New York.  E.B. White (yes, of Charlotte’s Web fame) wrote this opening line in his Here is New York, an elegantly heart-breaking paean to my favorite city: “On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy.” 

Yet the November 23 New York magazine had a piece by Jennifer Senior entitled “The Loneliness Myth.”  Read it here:

Senior debunks the idea of loneliness and talks instead of the connectedness and community found in a city where (at least in Manhattan) 50.6% of people live in single-person dwellings and where community can be rich and deep and omnipresent.

I love walking the streets of New York in anonymity, privacy and freedom, and I fantasize about someday having my own place there.  And making daily rounds to greet my own butcher, baker and candlestick-maker.

And by contrast, the loneliest time I ever spent was a month in a small southern town where my husband had business. We were newlyweds, and I came along, still unemployed as I was.  And I tried to get involved in some civic usefulness to pass the time (since our one-windowed apartment there had a television with only sound and no picture and no one in town seemed interested in new friends).  I tried to shelve books at the library.  I tried to help with the Miss Allegheny County Beauty Pageant (not my normal schtick; I got desperate).  I offered to work at the hospital.  I was seen as suspicious and treated as an unwelcome interlocutor, even though we lived on Popular Street (I kid you not!).  

It was the loneliest month of my life and I swore off provincial, small towns and headed for New York as soon as I could. It’s still true that I like myself best in New York, that a jaunt to and through the Holland Tunnel will cure the blues and that I feel like part of something warm and organic and living when I am there — a flow of community.

So here’s to New York… and every last pothole in it.  It’s my kind of town.  


~ by Cary on February 5, 2009.

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