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.