We Have Come to Expect.
We have come to expect that as New Yorkers we will never be whole.
Our home is a trading post. Bits of our identity, our personality, our desires are exchanged among transients and passers-through.
Curiosity feeds on it and them.
Furtive looks. Furtive affairs. Conversations with strangers. Chance encounters. A pursuit. The acceptance of pursuit.
To be a real New Yorker is to be insatiable. To engage in all this.
Sure, to lament or chastise (or praise) the engagement once complete, but always to consent to it or the thought of it.
And bearing sensitivity or not, one must accept that with a life of engagement in a city of non-residents, there will never be finality.
Your lover will escape to Shanghai. Your dearest friend will move to London. A year of your life will situate itself in Paris. Your every day will make its way clear across the nation.
Some will return, only to leave again, each time carrying heavier portions of you away like cargo.
As New Yorkers, we regenerate. In a way, having adorned our people, we set to constructing anew, well aware that what we make will be traded off yet again in exchange for memory and experience and emotion.
This isn’t a negative judgment. It is an observation. It is a lifestyle that we cannot live without.
Walt Whitman, a New Yorker, put it best, clearly embracing this contradictory cycle of gain and loss: “I am large — I contain multitudes.”
This is a truth. We are. We will.
As expected, the poem I’ve called forth this quote from is titled Song of Myself. For only a New Yorker would write such a selfish, self-obsessed poem and only a New Yorker would write what you’ve just read.
All in search of explaining his loneliness. All in an effort to make his personal experience a universal one. Solace, in a shared acceptance, a mutual consent, that we will never have every seat in our home filled.
Because we shouldn’t.
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