New York, I Miss You.
As you are the city that made me fall in love with cities. Throughout my childhood you were as romanticized as you were real. My dad told me stories about growing up in Brooklyn and Coney Island in the 1950s and 1960s – Americana at its finest. Stickball in the streets, rooftop hammocks, and climbing trees to watch the game happening inside of Yankee Stadium (the original, the real Yankee Stadium). He told me about selling watermelon on the boardwalk in the summer time, hot dogs and clam dippers at Nathan’s, and of course visiting Grandpa Izzy when he was running the Cyclone.
I saw Broadway musicals and the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall for many Christmases. I remember my first trip to Coney Island, and the advice my dear old dad gave me, that has stuck with me for a lifetime…”Don’t look at the bums directly in the eye or they will follow you.” (Another Bruce-ism that I just adore is “I never sit with my back to the door because I have a fear of getting whacked.”)
My mom told me about moving to the big city, working downtown, and living this exciting, unexpected life. She told me about dates she went on in Manhattan, and how she made my dad miss a Yankee no-hitter because she wanted to go mini-golfing that night. Denim jackets, feathered hair, The Band.
I’ve been thinking about New York a lot recently. Maybe it’s because people ask me about it a lot. “I hear London and New York are really similar!” Well, not exactly. Or maybe it’s because I am homesick for a different part of home. Or that amazing episode of Saturday Night Live that Maya Rudolph just hosted and made my desire to pursue comedy feel less like a want and more like a need. I miss my sister (she lives in Queens). I think about the many times I visited one of my best friends when he lived in New York. He’s now in LA, I’m in London. Life happens that way, doesn’t it?
I miss New York, not in the Jay-z-and-Alicia-Keys-throw-their-hands-up-in-Times-Square sort of way. I miss it more for the crazy old bats who wear their furs in July, the unmatched love of brunch, for Upright Citizens Bridage and Magnet -style improv, PIZZA, bagels, yellow cabs, the Chrysler Building, people who aren’t as mean as they’re made out to be (they’re actually pretty awesome/crazy). I do, I miss New York. Despite the less-than-perfect weather, the INSANE cost to live/visit/pass through/pass gas in the city, the millions of people you sometimes feel you have to work against, the endless swell of tourists, the Williamsburg Elite, and the immense pressure to be “New York,” I suppose a part of me will always be pulled to that city, my first city. Because sometimes, on those rare occasions when the streets are quiet on a Sunday, or you walk through Little Italy on a cool summer night, or you remember that Central Park and Mr. Softee ice cream will always be exactly what you need right then and there, New York is everything and nothing like you imagine.