The Other I

November 27, 2016

Why I still love New York

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 3:32 pm

I was seven years old when I made one of the most important choices of my life.  I was getting off that idyllic farm in Ohio where I was growing up and going to New York.

I didn’t get there, as I planned then, by the time I was 14, and I did make a by-stop as a Maryknoll nun where I thought I was going to be able to work among the poor in an underdeveloped country.  When that didn’t happen, I moved into a studio apartment in Greenwich Village in Manhattan (it was still affordable in those days), where I earned my PhD and basically spent my career until moving to Europe with my English husband to care for his aging parents.

I’ve learned to love London and enjoy Copenhagen, Paris, and cities in general.  But for me New York is still special.

Yesterday I was reminded why.  Several people have sent me photos and news articles about the subway (known as the Underground, here in Britain) Wall of Sticky Notes at Union Square in the Village.  It goes on for blocks.

I wasn’t wrong when I decided I was getting off that farm and going to New York.

It’s not niverna 24/7.  It’s a place that I found paradoxically was often its best on its worst days – during black-outs or floods or fires – or post-elections perhaps? – when people were so often willing to do so much to help out complete strangers whom they would otherwise ignore without a thought.

There’s a country western song in which the cowboy sings “When I die, let me go to Texas.”  When I die, I want to go to New York.




  1. ME TOO! Terry, it is the city with a heart! Thou born there, we moved to California in 1973. Visiting New York whenever we open a map to find out which way to go, three strangers appear…argue among themselves the best way…and after consensus tell us all we need to know. It has happened on the street, the bus and the subway platform. There is a column daily in the NY Times you may not know about called “Metropolitan Diary.” Tom and I read it aloud every day…so NEW YORK!
    I think people can read twenty articles a month for free…on line. FYI.


    Comment by Beth Bastasch — November 27, 2016 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

    • Beth – It sounds like we’ve both fallen forever in love with New York in the same way. You live in California, I live in Cambridge, England. And yet — like a first love — New York is engraved on our hearts. Thank you for the info re the Metropolitan Diary. I’m going right now to check it out. (And make myself homesick?)


      Comment by theotheri — November 27, 2016 @ 9:07 pm | Reply

      • But it also relieves homesickness…just a click away!
        And one woman commented on the election in the Times…thus…
        “When he said he’d drain the swamp I had no idea he would put them in his cabinet”
        I just love the people who write in!!!


        Comment by Beth Bastasch — November 27, 2016 @ 9:09 pm

  2. Thanks Terry for your heart-felt reflection about being in love with NYC. I was born and raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn, like my parents, etc. When I was growing up New York City was called by Brooklynites “the city.” It’s where my parents, grandfather, uncles and eventually my brother would work. Also, I rode the subway from Brooklyn to work in “the city” for the Maryknoll Fathers (East 39th St. house) for a year before entering Mkl, then worked for a company near Grand Central Station after leaving Mkl., while Joe and I were dating (hikes along the Palisades overlooking the Hudson.) My father used to take me, beginning at age 10, via the subway to “Hell’s Kitchen” (10th Avenue) store front for Herald Tribune Fresh Air Fund, where I’d go with other city girls to summer camp in the Catskills.
    Many memories, too, of our family’s special outings to Bronx Zoo and Museum of Natural History. In high school, I managed to get a friend to enter ice-skating race (which we lost), held at Central Park. After Mkl. visits to the art museums, the MET, helping son Peter settle in an apartment as freshman at Fordham’s Lincoln Center (Theater Arts major). I’ve pretended to be Irish, so marched with Polish classmate in St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
    In Brooklyn, like I say, “the city” was across the Brooklyn Bridge (walked it couple of times), or via subway under the East River. “The Bronx” seemed to be like Brooklyn. “Staten Island” reached by ferry was considered by us as “the country.” The borough of “Queens” was also like the country to those of us Brooklynites renting apartments. While living in California, New Yorkers from all the boroughs bond for sure.
    It is my heart’s home for many reasons. Whenever I open my mouth, people still ask: (after living here in California since 1971) “Where are you from?” I say New York, then add Brooklyn. The response always is: “I thought so.”
    Once in the Metropolitan museum, someone called out in a crowded gallery room: “Can someone tell me the name of this mountain? I forgot!” “A chorus of voices: “Mount Fuji!” “Oh, yeah! how cd. I forget that!” I’ve been on a bus, where passengers will yell at the driver to stop at the next corner and let the guy running alongside the bus to get on!
    Thanks again, Terry, for your reflection. Growing up on a farm must have been amazing in ways I hope you will write about on your site here.


    Comment by Carolyn Grassi — November 30, 2016 @ 3:28 am | Reply

    • Oh Carolyn, I recognize your New York! Even though I did not even life there until I’d left Maryknoll.

      As you can see, I wrote today about growing up on a farm, as you suggest. I’ve written other posts in the blog category section “growing up,” which are a little more descriptive and less analytical. Perhaps I will write a few more. Stories are going around our family right now, as my brother is dying, and we are remembering so many of the things we did in those days, and how fortunate we were. Yes, it was amazing in ways. It gave me a lot — even if I did decide by the time I was six to go live in New York.


      Comment by theotheri — November 30, 2016 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

      • greetings Terry,
        Am so looking forward to reading about your growing up on the family farm. I wonder what it was, as such a young age, that made you think of New York?
        Maybe a movie you saw? I have a New Yorker cover framed….in it the old view New Yorkers used to have of the rest of the country and world…..everything stopped at the Hudson or New Jersey! At age 6 or 7, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else except Brooklyn, until my grandmother’s stories of Scotland and the Orkney Islands…..the world began opening up. And I’m reading your past posts about the novitiate, Maryknoll, etc. Just love your writing, so interesting, honest, moving, intelligent and open. many thanks, love, Carolyn


        Comment by Carolyn Grassi — December 2, 2016 @ 5:49 am

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