Counting the Ways

How do I love NYC? I’ve been counting the ways…

To borrow a line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet: I love NYC “to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach…”

Today I’ll be organizing and packing to leave my old neighborhood, after a quick week’s visit, to return to much-more-affordable-for-me-and-warm-year-round San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, my new home. But as I fold up and tuck things into my suitcase, I’ll be thinking about the NYC I love. And why.

Wall art on one of my walks
Wall art on one of my walks

First, I need to specify: When I say New York, I mean Manhattan (an island only 13+ miles long and 2+ miles wide), and when I talk of my ‘hood, I’m referring to the width from Broadway to the Hudson River, running the length from Columbia University at 116th Street to the 79th Street Boat Basin off of Riverside Park.

A partial view of the 79th Street Boat Basin
A partial view of the 79th Street Boat Basin

In my long-held opinion, no one can take all of NYC in at once; it’s too overwhelming, too dense (a whopping 1.6+ million people live on this little island, and that number more than doubles each day, when commuters and tourists swarm in).

If anyone tried to take ALL of NYC in, he or she would only gag. So we former (as well as current, of course) residents tend to carve our New York into manageable slices, as though it were an enormous pizza “with everything.” My slice is here on the Upper West Side.

I love my NYC most for its diversity of humanity: People of all colors, ages, sizes, shapes, genders, religions, ethnicities; wearing all sorts of outfits – short-shorts, flowing skirts, headdresses, yarmulkes and hijabs – interacting, intermingling, talking and laughing with each other, respecting each other’s differences. With this kind of proximity – breathing each other’s exhalations — it’s impossible to be bigoted.

I saw a poignant sign in Riverside Park on my walk yesterday – as a helmeted old woman on a fat-wheeled bike rolled past me, a dad on a scooter, with his little boys (on smaller scooters) following along like ducklings, scooted by, and a young mom pushing her baby’s stroller in front of her jogged ahead — that encapsulates this ethos for me:

A sign in Riverside Park
A sign in Riverside Park

I love my NYC because it is resilient, enduring, improving, embracing, inspiring. I’ve been reminded on this short trip that my NYC is a microcosm of the world; and if people of every conceivable stripe can (and do!) live here in peace and harmony, it’s possible to do so anywhere else on earth.

12 thoughts on “Counting the Ways”

  1. I would have to say that other then Houston (surprise!) NYC is so diverse and so energetic that I always looked forward to and dreaded when I had to leave. It truly is a microcosm of the World. I wonder how many dialects there are in NYC?. I know I was astonished recently while in Houston to be told the number there – well in the 100’s! Glad you had a superb visit!

  2. …”if people of every conceivable stripe can (and do!) live here in peace and harmony, it’s possible to do so anywhere else on earth.”….

    As we say….”from your lips to God’s ears”……..

  3. From here across The Pond, it seems someone needs to point that out to Herr Trump! Not to mention our Brexiteers!
    You’re still a member of the Peace Corps, Bonnie! keep up the good work.
    X Sandra.

    1. Lovely to hear from you from all the way across the pond, dear Sandra in Kirriemuir! 🙂 You’re right: once a Peace Corps volunteer, always a Peace Corps volunteer. Mucho love from Mexico, where I’m back, safe and sound, gracias a dios.– xx

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