Chapter 1. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion...no, make that: he romanticized it all out of proportion. Yeah. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin. Uh, no let me start this over... Chapter 1. He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat. I love this. New York was his town, and it always would be. ― Woody Allen, Manhattan
I have fallen in love with this city numerous times over the years. Once when I was 13, skateboarding around Washington Square Park, before it was renovated into the beautiful thing it is today. Wandering the streets at 3am, sipping Olde English and smoking clove cigarettes with friends I no longer speak to. It was the first time I felt free and the first time I knew this is where I wanted to be. I returned in my early 20s, navigating the music scene of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, romanticizing the days of the Velvet Underground and Warhol; romanticizing their vices as though it somehow ended well for them.
After leaving for so many years, I finally returned to New York this winter the same way I left – with nothing but suitcases and a hope that all that was wrong would stay where it was and would not follow. The first two manifestations were nothing more than honeymoon phases, the blind love that exists when you fall for a crazy woman. You feed off her darkness and cannot walk away, but you know it will eventually blow up in your face and leave you in pieces. I clung to the dirt and idealizations; loved the city not in spite of, but for her darker personifications.
I met Laura in Bushwick and we rode the L Train to the Blue Line to the park. Though it was overcast, it was the first truly warm day in months and it felt good to remember what sweating felt like. We spent the afternoon wandering through the bridges and lakes and twisted pathways of Central Park, trying to navigate the scores of tourists and locals. My head was clear that day and flashes of the old black and white films from the 1960s that were hammered into my head at film school all came flooding back. Goddard, Truffaut, every early Woody Allen film doing circles in my brain; Laura walking a few steps ahead of me, taking the form of every female protagonist in her mod jacket and cat eye frames. A different feeling came over me that day and it was the first time in almost eight years that I saw the beauty of this place in a different light. It was a moment to reshape the city and all I can hope for is that it is the beginning of a new love affair with an old lover in a new light.