New York is like a very old friend. The more you see her, the quicker it is to be comfortable living with her. And just like with an old friend, you can pick up where you left off, as if you never went away. But if you haven’t visited in a while, just like a good old friend, she’ll make you pay first.

I’ve come back to New York properly after nearly a year, and it extracted its pound of flesh on the first day. I had the same feeling coming to New York that I had the first time I came here three years ago – a sense of loneliness. In this city, where people are packed as close as can be expected in this country, where you’re always in someone’s personal space and someone is in yours, no matter who you are, you are invisible. I see girls who have shaved off the left half of their scalp completely, women who wear just an over-sized shirt as if it is all one needs to wear, guys with dreadlocks down to their ass, and the crowd never even bats an eyelid at them. This double-edged sword of you-can-be-anyone-you-want and we-don’t-care-who-you-are, of being nobody but just you, makes you one of the crowd and at the same time isolates you completely from it. For the first few hours, three years ago and two weeks ago, everyone three feet away may well have been a mile away.

And like any good friend, after the first round of recriminations New York goes straight into where-have-you-been mode. All the sights and sounds become less of a sensory assault and more of a reassuring heartbeat. Wherever you are, even late at night, this city stays alive and makes sure you know it. Even the weather seems rigged for your fancy.

Waking up in the morning for a run, you find that New York has covered herself with a blanket of fog. The tallest skyscrapers end only 30 feet above the ground, and only the smallest amount of sunlight breaks through. With the white fog ceiling, and everything under it in shades of grey, you can’t shake the feeling that New York has moved you to the set of a very classy ’50s film. And as if that wasn’t enough, out of nowhere she ends those blocks of skyscrapers and gives you Central Park with such suddenness that you can’t help but look. Look up, and see the fog resting above the treetops. Look right, and see content dogs being run by their masters, horses being groomed by their riders and even at this early hour, the occasional tourist. Look ahead, and see trees after trees after trees. Step back and look, and you might be forgiven for staring into infinity for a second.

And just like that, she snaps you out of it. You finish your run, get to work, have lunch at this delicious hole-in-the-wall Moroccan place, and go back to work. You leave a little late, but New York understands and arranges a few more sights for you. The fog has long disappeared, leaving behind a cloud of mist swimming high amongst the rooftops. It all must be planned, the way the lights from the masts of all the buildings shine in the mist. The way even the clouds blanket the city, and depending on where you are you see different colours bouncing back from the heavens. The way everything is transformed into something to look at – even the mundane black sky was not left out.

It is all too good to resist, and you choose to walk the 20 blocks home instead of taking the metro. People are leaving the theaters or going home from work, and there is an unmistakable sense of upbeatness in the air. You see a 20-foot tall yellow teddy bear sculpture installed next to a building on your way home, and it doesn’t surprise you. You reflect on how natural it happen upon a giant yellow teddy bear on the street.

Lights twinkle in the distance, as if to wink at you.

Miss me?, she asks.

You can’t describe something so intangible, but this is why you come back to New York.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 25, 2011 at 4:24 am

    I’m coming baby 🙂

  2. June 26, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    …and this is why I come back to your blog. 🙂

  3. sifar
    June 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Lovely!

  4. vartika
    July 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    You speak *her* mind.. and oh so absolutely!

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