"A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry; it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentration on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive."
-E.B. White, Here Is New York
I haven't written much about my love affair with New York these last couple of weeks, in part because of spotty internet service, but mostly because I've wanted to keep it all to myself. Mine all mine.
New York has made me feel a little selfish about my relationship with it, although ironically, it has been generously giving me more than I'd dreamed of. As White puts it in his compact ode to New York, "On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy . . ."
"New York blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation; and better than most dense communities it succeeds in insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute."
We are on the third and final swap in our series of home-exchanges here in Manhattan. Each of our temporary abodes has had its charms and challenges, but this last one has completely intensified my love affair with New York. It's a beautiful pre-war, doorman building. In it, I feel like I'm living a page of New York history.
I can picture the couples, or probably singles, that have graced this elegant studio over its many decades, with its rich, dark hardwood floors, crystal chandeliers, and iron French-paned windows overloking the southern skyline of this exciting island. I contemplate their lives here, and admire the elegance of their dress as I glimpse at sepia-toned photos of those past eras. I feel connected to their world here, here in this apartment.
This month has just made me long for more. I can't get enough of this beautiful, loud, smelly, stately, elegant, crowded, exciting city, that awakens all my senses and makes me feel more alive than I ever do back at home. But I'm grateful to have been able to call it home for this month and can't wait for next time.