(But even then, for those moments when you just don't want to be there's always free hugs on Union Square. And milk chocolate with waffle-pops inside from Max Brenner. Or the beautiful *bling bling* of road bazaars that randomly appear every-so-now-and-then).
New York, is the city of miracles. Where dreams come true every single day, and hope lives eternal even as the people who live here don their armor and walk out their doors prepared to battle the day and emerge triumphant. I love the 'feel' of the city. Some call it cold, some call it hard, some call it brutal - but you have to live here to see the softness underneath. I love the way the city blasphemes against stereotypes even as it reinforces them. I love how NY will welcome, with open arms, people who are different, who don't conform, who are - often - downright bizarre, just as long as they are confident in who they are. No, this city is not for the faint-hearted, or the weak-willed, it would swallow them up and spit them out before they knew what was happening to them. But for the stronger, and more adventurous, the city gives you a place where you can be exactly who you are. This city is irreverent, independent and so-very-very-proud to be that way, showing the finger - in a deliberately obnoxious way - to anyone who thinks to change it.
For me, there is no place like NY. And in less than a week, I prepare to leave it. Possibly forever.
Already my room is packed into three suitcases. All the pictures are off the walls along with mementoes I have collected over the past years have been neatly stacked in multiple shoeboxes and my books in cartons waiting to be shipped. And I, I feel like something inside me is being torn apart. This city feeds my soul every time I walk out of my house. It feeds my soul with the music that plays around every corner, in every subway. It feeds my soul with variety I find along every street, in people and performance both. Grastromonically, for example, the city delights. Within ten blocks from where I live you can find all-American diners with giant-sized burgers and yummy 'french' fries , little European bistros with fabulous omellettes, Greek diners with the best salad, multiple lebanese eateries one of which has great hazelnut coffee, multiple mexican restaurants with cheesy quesadillas that melt in your mouth, and so many, many more: Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Cuban, French, Chinese, Indian. And all of this is just within ten blocks that immediately surround my house.
For the first time in my life, I can truly say that I'm ready to call myself a New-Yorker. Except, I'm packing the sum of all my various experiences into three miserable suitcases and preparing to leave the city behind. And it sucks. It really, really does. Everyone who knows me, knows my magpie like propensity to gravitate towards shiny things. I don't know how I will, less than a week from now, say goodbye to the city that, for me, is the ultimate *bling-bling*. I have no idea, how I'm going to give up my life - as I know it - and once again pack up everything and head towards the known-unknown. Back to a life I used to know, but which has - as these things sometimes do - changed irrevocably to a point where I have no idea what it is I'm heading back to. I leave here with no plan, with no idea of what the future holds. But even as I prepare to say farewell and (almost desperately) hope that I'll be back, I realize that no matter where I am - geographically, socially, culturally - I will not only survive, I will thrive. This confidence is NYC's gift to me. And I am very, very grateful.
And yes, like every single person who travels through the subways, headphones on, determinedly ignoring the person sitting next to them - from the irritating Japanese tourist clicking away on an oversize camera, to the yuppie professional in a dapper suit heading downtown to work for a finance company he hopes will stop downsizing now, or the eager student heading up - or down - for class or the homeless person who comes up to you with a story of a tragic existence and begs for money to buy the next beer, or the musician who dreams of making it big even as he plays for coins in subway carriages - like every single one of these people (and more), I too - very, very much - heart NYC.