We returned last Sunday from an 11-day driving tour of New England, and as we pulled off the parkway into our neighborhood, I had a feeling that was both distinct and shocking: It's good to be home. I caught myself before saying it out loud to Ed. Home? Yes, this is where we live, but home? But the autumn sun was shining on the water, and the tree leaves were rustling in the breeze. Neighbors were out for afternoon walks, and the entire surroundings were so familiar that they offered a comforting welcome, a welcome home. I came out of this surprising thought and told it to Ed. I never thought I'd say it about New York, but I guess if you live anywhere long enough it can become home.
I thought about this some more this afternoon as I drove around a curve on the Belt Parkway and the majestic Verrazano Bridge loomed above me. I love seeing that bridge, I feel an ownership in it. In fact, this week as I've returned to regular daily life, I feel ownership of the whole neighborhood, of my place in it, earned through endurance.
I thought of the places I've lived - Fairfax, Provo, Boston, Toronto, Boulder and now New York. And sure enough, if I lived there long enough, it had become home, and often hard to leave. We've been in New York over two years, with one more to go. And while my feelings toward the city in general have been no secret on this blog or in any conversation, I'm softening to the idea that it's a matter of perspective, of point of reference. Yes, life here is an infuriating hassle, but only if you compare it to other places. I've spent much of my time here comparing it to places I came from or places I want to go next. That makes it a terrible place to live. But when I just let it be New York, it's so special and unique that I feel special just being part of it (not special enough to stay longer, but still.)
These thoughts reminded me of a poem I'd heard, a section of Essay on Man by Alexander Pope:
- Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
- As to be hated needs but to be seen;
- Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
- We first endure, then pity, then embrace.