"New Yorkers choose to gather under the banner that says 'New York'—which is so elastic it really means nothing at all—and that is exactly what I love about this place. The capacity to gather without precise definition I experience as a form of freedom[.]"
New York City: crowded, expensive, relentless - yet appealing. I was sitting in a park the other day recalling how I have lived, and considered living, in other cities. But I am here, and happy to be.
Novelist Zadie Smith captures these and other sentiments earlier this month in the New York Review of Books in an essay, "Under the Banner of New York."
"We are a multiplicity of humans in an elastic social arrangement that can be stretched in many directions. It’s not broken yet. I have no idea if it will break soon—but it’s not broken yet. And here comes the rain, clearing the streets, for an hour maybe, even for a whole afternoon. We’ll be back out tomorrow."
And her mid-essay stream of thought (below) reminds me, forgivingly, of my own creative process and the various bursts of energy that take my mind to all sorts of places. Perhaps this city's inconsistencies and sporadic nature have some greater architecture or meaning. Or maybe they don't. Regardless, noticing the city's juxtaposition of disorder and functionality prompts me to have more faith in my own work and path:
"Like many a New Yorker right now I talk a good game but my mind is scattered, disordered. To me, the city itself feels scattered, out of sorts; certainly carrying on like London, like Paris, but also, like those places, newly fearful, continuing with its routines while simultaneously wondering whether it still wants to, considering decamping to the countryside while being repulsed by that same thought—oh, and a ragbag of other random thoughts and anecdotes that will now converge in the next paragraph like a half-dozen strangers united for a moment on a street corner."