I thought a lot on this walk about how hard it is to love something once you are inside it, how it is always the idea we love first, playing on the back of our eyelids like opening credits. I want New York City to be New York City for me, but it never really was. Long after I learned Oklahoma City like the back of my hand, I would try to conjure the feeling I had the first time the grooves on the lakeside highway made a singing sound under my tires, the twisting confusion and promise of so many unfamiliar interstates that later became the memory of a hundred traffic jams, populated with the knowledge that the shop where I bought fabric for curtains was at the end of one exit ramp, my mechanic at the end of another, the whole city a grid of familiarity and reference points.
I tell myself on a regular basis, “You are in New York City, that New York City. You are inside of it.” It isn’t disappointing. It hasn’t become passe. It is like trying to grasp the infinite, to split time and be both the person who wasn’t in New York City and the person who is and to feel both with the acute presence and gratitude of the first autumn day.
I think we love cities and people in the same way.