Sunday, June 22, 2008

New York I love you

Let's not discuss all of the half written entries I have in my draft box on my blog settings and just hope I get through this one...

Here is a quote that I read on the bus this evening.

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter--the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last--the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh yes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company. . . .
--EB White, 1948

I get attached to things. Most of you know that my first city love was St. Petersburg. To this day it is special to me. I fell in love with Piter when I was perhaps nine or ten, writing odes to the city and cursing the unfairness of life that I couldn't be there in Russia as communism fell and the tanks filled the streets of Red Square (yes, I was eleven.)

New York has been a different kind of lover. Perhaps you could say it was my first mature relationship. I abandoned myself fully to it even as I feared it. Although I say that I moved here to pursue a career in film, I know that I moved here because I had to. I can't even remember when I first knew that I would live here, it just always seemed inevitable. The only American city that could contain my international sensibilities.

They say that being broken up with is harder than doing the leaving. I wonder about that. There is a sadness, a questioning that accompanies this otherwise exciting and joyful decision. I love New York so much. And yet I feel almost certain that I will never live here again. My truly international life begins this fall, at the cost of my New York life which I have treasured.

Living abroad in the past has been exhilarating and exciting, while also being safe. Each experience I knew was for a limited time; I even knew the extent of the time I would spend in my various ports of call. Flings, if you will (even if one lasted a year and a half :) .) It was part of the deal, the job I had signed up to do, the service I had committed to give. It was under someone else's jurisdiction. New York was never that way.

After awhile I started to believe that I would get to settle down here, I would get to be part of one of those foundational families whose kids grow up in the city, experiencing grocery shopping online and museum outings on rainy days. And in a million ways I would love to raise my family here.

But I have seen the desires of my childhood heart come to me throughout my life, and the desire to live abroad in a substantial way has never left, no matter how restfully it hibernated in my chest for five beautiful years here in Manhattan. Last spring I was lead (so completely that the miracle story deserves a posting of its own) to the grad program I had been searching for in the city I had been hoping for. And yet even then I couldn't make the commitment right away. It was nice to know I would be going, and nice to know that I still had over a year with my beloved New York.

But here I go now! London is calling and I am responding! I love London in its own way, and I hope that I never expect it to be New York.

When I leave New York it will be a completed experience. London for five years? Kazakhstan for a few? Geneva for ten? Once again I am preparing to hand myself over completely to an experience. New York, you have shown me that I can be safe in doing so. You have nurtured and taught me, loved me and challenged me. There is no place in the world like you. And yet, you are not my place. A love of my soul, but not my soul mate. Thank you for being a bosom friend to a free spirit. I know you are used to the love and used to the leaving, this is nothing new for you. But you really were the first love that I fully committed myself to, the love that aroused the passions of my grown up heart.

I thank you, and will love you forever.

(editor's note: you must know that the boy from the Corn Belt is the girl from Cornville, leaving with a manuscript on her computer and a pain in her heart.)


Blogger Tamara said...

Thank you Corina. Such great perspective -- as always.

5:43 AM  
Blogger Lollygagger said...

Oh, you've spoken my own thoughts!

9:04 AM  
Blogger Charlotte said...

You are such a talented writer! If New York does not grieve at losing you, it should. You have added beauty and compassion to its often callous streets.--I miss you! We need to be in touch more often, my dear, dear friend!

1:52 PM  
Blogger Lady Holiday said...

You're going to fall in love with London, too. I'm so glad I got to meet you and share a little bit of New York with you, too. We'll all miss you! (And I loved this post so much that I linked it to my blog...)

6:03 PM  

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