So I am back in New York and it is wholly bizarre. There's this strange juxtaposition between feeling entirely at home in the familiarity of it all, and also feeling like I need to learn everything all over again. The city has most certainly changed. Huge "For Sale" and "Out of Business" signs deck the halls in lieu of bows of holly. I accidentally walked down to Forsyth when trying to get from Broome Street to First Street. I've forgotten how to navigate a grid and I'm not sure it's the fact that there's some Parisian in me now or that I just smoke too much pot. The first night I got here, Sunday, I wandered up 2nd Avenue amazed at the fact that everything was open, that there were people out on the streets, that it was a balmy 60 degrees in New York in the winter and things seemed virginal, honestly untouched, just the same as I had left them. But thing are not the same! At least not in the way I experience them. There are wisps of French everywhere in this city that I never noticed before: the church near here is playing French films; the girls in the dressing room next to me at H&M yesterday were chattering away en Francais. What is so cool about having lived in Paris for four months is not that I can spend the rest of my life missing it (which I'm sure I will), but instead that everything I learned there applies to life here. In New York. A New York perhaps Whitney Port wants to ruin.
But the French Dream is over. Back to real life, to internet 24/7, to being constantly available via e-mail or cell phone, to soy milk (!) and delivery. The economic crisis is no longer this large, haunting thing, shrouded in mist, looming grand across some giant ocean. Now it is right in my lap and I hear snippets of conversations about losing homes and jobs and cutting costs and it is terrifying because for the first time in my life I am going to be impacted by something monetarily driven more serious than my weekly allowance. Now I will have trouble finding a job to pay for school and my parents will have trouble paying tuition and goddamn John Sexton will raise tuition so as to continue the glorious trope of obliterating the middle class that has been uplifted these past eight years.
But there is also Hope. And Progress. And Change. And all those buzzwords plastered across a posterized version of our valiant President Elect. I have confidence in Obama, more than I ever have in a political leader. My formative years coincided with the Bush administration -- and I will save the bulk of this for another post -- but that has certainly impacted my outlook on government, on society, on life in general.
One good thing about being away from New York for so long is that when you return, everything seems new. The coffee at Little Veselka tastes better. The tourists still growl at me when I viciously elbow them out of the way on Broadway! The sun feels warmer and more welcoming. The shouts coming from trannies and hobos from outside Josh's apartment on 1st and 1st lull me gently to sleep. I can never sleep with silence, and now I have the ambulances back to provide obnoxious background noise that makes me feel right at home. Because I am home! New York is my home! And I am very, very glad to be back.