Crossposted from Tumblr.
“Whenever you give up an apartment in New York and move to another city, New York turns into the worst version of itself. Someone I know once wisely said that the expression “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there” is completely wrong where New York is concerned; the opposite is true. New York is a very livable city. But when you move away and become a visitor, the city seems to turn against you. It’s much more expensive (because you need to eat all your meals out and pay for a place to sleep) and much more unfriendly. Things change in New York; things change all the time. You don’t mind this when you live here; when you live here, it’s part of the caffeinated romance to this city that never sleeps. But when you move away, your experience change as a betrayal. You walk up Third Avenue planning to buy a brownie at a bakery you’ve always been loyal to, and the bakery’s gone. Your dry cleaner move to Florida; your dentist retires; the lady who made the pies on West Fourth Street vanishes; the maitre d’ at P.J. Clarke’s quits, and you realize you’re going to have to start from scratch tipping your way into the heart of the cold, chic young woman now at the down. You’ve turned your back from only a moment, and suddenly everything’s different. You were an insider, a native, a subway traveler, a purveyor of inside tips into the good stuff, and now you’re just another frequent flyer, stuck in a taxi on Grand Central Parkway as you wing in and out of La Guardia. Meanwhile, you read that Manhattan rents are going up, they’re climbing higher, they’re reached the stratosphere. It seems that the moment you left town, they put a wall around the place, and you will never manage to vault over it and get back into the city again.
I lived in New York for the first time the summer that When Harry & Sally came out, and I saw it in one of those small multiplexes on 6th Avenue a few blocks off Washington Square Park.
The boy I later married was living in NYC, near Washington Square Park that summer, but I don't know if we ever passed each other by as he was on his way to work in a law firm in midtown, and I was heading to the World Trade Center en route to the American Stock Exchange.
I'd wanted to live in New York forever before I saw that movie, and I had Sally's hair a year or so later, and her jackets and sweaters and jeans and I fancied myself a journalist (I was working for CNBC, after all). When Harry Met Sally confirmed that New York was for me, but by the time You've Got Mail came out, we were living in Miami and I was pregnant and we knew that we wouldn't live in New York again, at least not for years.
Today we talked about how much we missed it, why we wanted to go back, and whether there's any chance to do so before all the kids are off to college. The answers are: so much, for reasons, and probably not but hotel deals are possible and flights from here to there are usually cheap.
So yeah, we'll probably scale that wall again someday and get back into New York City, which we love so much. But tonight, we'll just watch When Harry Met Sally, and You've Got Mail and remember New York in the ten or so years when we lived in the heart of it.