I have always been amazed by my City.
I’ve gone through different phases and different circumstances in my life but ah, my City, She has always been good to me.
There have been nights when I took to a rooftop of a building and stood high above the streets and the hustle of the cabs. I looked out at the scene. I looked at the windows of apartment buildings and noticed the lamps in bedrooms and living rooms.
There has always been something interesting to me about the way a television could flicker in a room — the bluish light illuminates against the walls to give the window view a certain glow. The City is filled with millions of windows like this. And the truth is, I love every single one of them.
There are early mornings, like today, for example, I was driving down the Westside Highway alongside the Hudson River before the sunrise. The moon was out. The buildings on the Manhattan side appeared to be resting for the moment. Across the river is New Jersey, who is a friend to me now, although, this wasn’t always the case. The Hudson River moves like a black sheet of glass; the lights from the stagnant ships and barges reflect across the river’s surface. This was my view this morning. Otherwise, the highway was empty because the rest of the world was sleeping.
I know this scene. This has been a part of my life for as long as I can recall. I have seen different ages and different crowds, but my City has always been the same to me. She knows the secrets. She understands what it means to endure and survive.
This is New York City.
She is my home and my balance. The streets and the landscapes might have changed but Her memory is unending, and yet, Her memory is anonymous because my City never tells. She keeps our secrets safe.
This is why She is a haven to most. This is why the sick are welcomed. This is why the dreams we have and the hopes we share are welcomed here. This is where I saw my first glimpse of hope and where I realized there was something more to this life than what I’ve always assumed.
This is where I first decided that someday, I will write all of this down and tell my story. There is everything here from the good to the bad. In fact, I have seen both good things and bad things. I’ve survived them all and so has She.
She has survived the worst though.
Enter the memory. Enter the remnants of Her past. Enter September; and as we move into the month of September, I am reminded of the tragedy that happened here on Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001.
I was here. I saw it all. I watched the buildings go down. I saw my City run in fear. I saw the devastation and then from the ashes; I watched Her rebuild. From the rubble, I watched as they built The Freedom Tower. They built memorials and fountains. I literally witnessed as thousands of lives were exterminated — and even still, my City was able to rebuild.
That’s amazing to me.
I want to be this strong. I want to be exactly this way, and just like my City. I want to know and understand the ability to endure and rebuild. I want to be able to encapsulate beauty the way She has for me. I want to welcome the sick, the tired, the hopeless and the poor.
Just know that no matter where I go in this world and no matter where I lay my head or my body to rest, this City and me will always have a connection.
I heard it best from a line that comes from the late, great Jim Carroll:
“The City is on my side.”
And she is.
She taught me one true thing, which is when times are tough, we can do one of two things. We either succumb or survive.
And my City, she’s a survivor.
That’s exactly how I want to be.