"When you are elevated from the street, you see the city in a totally different light."
Marios Schwab was technically referring to the extension of the Highline when he said this, but in my mind it speaks for the entire experience of an outsider's relationship with the city.
My own relationship with the city mimics the course of what I imagine most serious romantic relationships to entail. It is, without question, my first love. Although my city and I certainly have our fair share of lover’s quarrels and mishaps, I know that in the end, I can trust that it will always be there for me and take care of me. While I don’t actually leave the city, I do (as do most New Yorkers) a lot of moving around- in the last two years I’ve lived in Greenwhich Village, the Upper East Side, and Chelsea- so I’ve come to associate the word “home” with the city in general rather than any specific P.O. box.
However... My view of the city varies between realistic and idealist depending on whether I am actually in the city or elsewhere removed. As I’ve recently made New York my home base once again (after several years of forced separation), I’ve found myself traveling in and out of the city on a more regular basis. I spent the majority of those aforementioned five years dreaming of the city and imagining what I would be doing if I were back there. But now that I’m actually here (there) I realize that maybe I was actually letting wishful thinking get the best of me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love, LOVE, living in the city. I feel like it’s the place I belong and that I could never truly be myself or reach my highest potential if I were to leave it again (with the singular, potential exception of London). But there is a certain stress about existing here: one that I can really only relate to that feeling you get when you travel to a new locale- pressure to be do or experience something all the time. You feel like you don’t want to waste a second of your time in this wonderful, unexplored place and even if, you really want nothing more than to sit down, read a book, or (god-forbid) get to bed sometime before 3am, a feeling of guilt washes over and prevents any real relaxation from ever happening.
The point, though, is that even as I have been back in North Carolina for my relatively short winter break (stupid F.I.T. kicking us out of our dorms!) I’ve noticed the same phenomenon happening again. All of the issues and constant fatigue that weigh me down while I am (physically) in the city dissolve and here I am once more: sitting on my couch re-watching the first season Gossip Girl, counting down the days until I go back. I guess there will always be a certain confusion over the assimilation of going from striving for the “unattainable” to not exactly knowing what to do when you have it.
Work hard, move up, and hope you don’t loose it?