I was born and raised in the city known as the Big Apple. Skyscrapers and hot dog stands on every street corner have been part of my landscape since I first learned how to walk. I have perfected my “don’t mess with me, I’m on my way to somewhere important” look as I walk the sidewalks of Manhattan during rush hour. I have also perfected my “don’t mess with me, I can be just as crazy as you” look as I ride the subway. I root for the New York Yankees, live for designer sample sales, wait on long lines for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, complain about everything, can maneuver a busy street filled with people with the finesse of a prima ballerina and flag a cab down with just a wave of a hand. I talk too fast and use lots of hand gestures. I dress in various shades of black. I am what you call a New Yorker.
Part of being a New Yorker sometimes means that you take for granted how lucky you are to be part of this wonderful, crazy and loud city. I realized this the other day as I was making my way down 34th Street to catch my train home. I was walking past the Empire State Building and bumped into a group of tourists. Normally, I would just keep going, sighing with frustration at being delayed for just a second. But this time, I actually looked at them and followed their awestruck gaze up. I saw what they saw and I found myself glued in place and smiling. I mean, who wouldn’t be amazed? Here I was standing in front of one of the most famous buildings in the world-the building which serves as the backdrop to many famous movies, from an Affair to Remember to one of my favorites-Sleepless in Seattle. The place couples go to fall in love, get engaged or share a kiss.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks or a dozen counterfeit bags being peddled on Eighth Avenue by men pushing nondescript shopping carts-I live in one of the greatest cities in the world. Don’t get me wrong-every city is unique and has its fabulous qualities. I’ve been to London, Paris and Rome, among others. I’ve seen the most amazing things there and met some of the most wonderful people too. But there’s just something about New York. I’m drawn to it like a moth to a fire- drawn to its smells and its soul. It’s ingrained into my memory like my family and friends are. It’s where I go to eat with a choice of millions of restaurants from Ethiopian to Italian. It’s where I can get a manicure and pedicure at any time of the day at dirt-cheap prices. It’s where I can stroll through Central Park one minute and watch a hockey game while sipping on cold beer the next. It sparkles with pretty lights during the holidays and explodes with energy during the hot summer evenings. New York is the place where dreams go to live and it’s the place I call home.
And I realize that no matter where life takes me, it will always be there for me. It’s true what they say-you can take the girl out of New York but you can’t take the New York out of the girl.