About a month ago I marked thirty years living in the New York Metropolitan Area (my first seven years were in Westchester County). It's somewhat peculiar for me when I think about it; when I graduated from college I never expected to live here. A job cropped up in line with my career goals and I made the move.
Market changes and crappy managers made me abandon most of my original career goals. I suppose it's part of one's maturing process: reconciling your dreams to the world's realities, but it's still a bit disheartening. Still one trudges on.
I don't love New York, but there are things I love about it: the museums and the sheer variety of museums: from the American Museum of Natural History, the American Museum of the Moving Image, Museum of the American Indian and any number of others. Central Park on a summer day; the lake at Flushing Meadows Corona Park; the promenade at Riverside Park; Governors island are all lovely oases from the concrete.
I also love some of the neighborhoods: my own Jackson Heights, my former neighborhood, Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside, Greenwich Village, Roosevelt Island and Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn. Few moments have given me more pleasure than bicycling from here in Jackson Heights to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal or the Governors Island Ferry Terminal through a panoply of different ethnic communities.
The noise and tension here is something I could do without; that and the impersonal nature of so much here. I have friends from whom I've grown apart and haven't seen for years, but live not far from where I live or work. It's easy to get swallowed up amidst all the brick and stone and it's easy to lose connections here.
I've been fortunate as all three of the large cities I've lived in are also major tourist destinations and marked by diverse populations. I have also lived in places where I could hear owls at night, and blessed quiet during the day; the sounds of nature forming a welcome counterpoint to humankind. Somehow I find myself longing for that more and more.