Sunday, November 20, 2016

New York at 25

One of the best books I read in 2016 was Just Kids by Patti Smith. It made me nostalgic for New York of old, and romanticized the life I could have in New York now. It convinced me that I should leave San Francisco and go be young and seemingly free in this famed city.

I decided this work trip was going to be a definitive moment symbolized by the purchase of a rad leather jacket. Patti would approve, of course. I was going to find a leather bomber, I was going to attend jazz clubs and drink cocktails at bars alone, even eat alone. I was freshly 25 and was doing New York solo. But I learned that I'm not so brave, and I'm not a rock and roll poet, and I don't like doing things alone.

I arrived in the rain and didn't like the New York I met. Patti had me fall in love with her version—even though there were drugs and poverty and hunger and uncertainty. Suffering only rain, I felt the romantic haze washed away. This wasn't the New York of the late '60s.

Still, the sun came out and I found my jazz clubs, my friends recently moved to Brooklyn, new spots to star in the West Village and East, old friends from college and I found myself having my first New York all-nighter. I found Crawford near Chelsea and we explored the Whitney, and all these names go well together. No leather jacket though. No rock and roll dreams or poetry... at least, this trip. I wasn't ready for the move to New York, and I'm still not quite there. Maybe I never will be. But San Francisco is mighty fine, and these little work trips are just enough.

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