Two of my favorite quotes by Zelda to open with, for lack of a better idea. And because she made up one half of the enfant terribles of the Jazz Age, which F. Scott made whole. And because for a time, the Fitzgeralds were New York. And, for a time, I am in New York.
Sometimes life tells you to move. Tells you to test yourself. Sometimes it presents you with the window to work hard to create an opportunity for excitement and advancement. Sometimes you want to jump through that window; sometimes you want to barricade it.
In December I left South Bend, Indiana for home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In January I left Tulsa for Rome. In May I left Rome for Tulsa. Five days later, I left Tulsa for New York City. Brooklyn, to be exact.
Sometimes life tells you to move. So you do. I did. I am. Sometimes, life screams change. So, change.
I will say that I have loved each place that I have been lately. I had left loving each place, eager for the next, even if slightly nervous. Even if it felt fast, I was accepting of each change. And, New York is no different.
I barely got my sea legs under me in Tulsa before it was time to leave again. Just enough time to do laundry, pet the cats, remember how much I love my bed, and let my grandpa buy me lunch four times. The important things, you know.
New York. Brooklyn: I came to the city for an internship. I am interning full time in a publicity position at powerHouse Books, an art book publishing company in DUMBO (down under Manhattan Bridge overpass). This means that I am steps away from the Hudson River and a stunning view of the financial district of Manhattan. powerHouse is an office, but also an event space and bookstore. Within my first 3 days there I saw: 1. Olivia Palermo (NY socialite/model) – she lives across the street. 2. Anne Hathaway and husband – so do they. and 3. 2 Manchester City pro soccer players shooting a commercial. That’s the neighborhood gang.
Contrast this – I live in Crown Heights – Anne Hathaway does not come here. It’s a little grittier, a little tougher. It’s the gentrified neighborhood, mid-gentrification. I live two blocks from Rogers Street with restaurants and bars and stores. (There’s a boutique cheese store. Boutique cheese. Gen-tri-fi-cation.) A block in the other direction from my apartment the neighborhood becomes sketchy, capital ‘s.’ I sit in the middle of a see-saw. But don’t worry, I’ve been told that it’s been some 68 days since the last homicide over there. Because they keep a count in the grocery store. There’s a sign.
I like the neighborhood though. It feels a little more honest. I feel like I have a tiny bit of street cred. Tiny bit. This is where an intern (should?) live anyhow, not a sparkling Upper East Side loft. No, this is not the idealized, this is a little more ankles tethered to the ground.
I’m a week and two days into the New York Summer. New York Claire occasionally drinks coffee. New York Claire reads on the subway. New York Claire meets a friend in the city after work. New York Claire spends lunch break sitting by the river.
It’s not all flowers, New York is probably the toughest thing that I’ve done. Nothing was set in place here. I have a handful of friends here, but none too easily accessible. I know nothing about the place. It’s learn as I go: I’ve been lonely. I’ve been rained on. I’ve taken the wrong train.
But, I’ve also had my subway fare paid for me on my first day. I’ve been lent a book. These are the small things that make New York less big and bad. These are the things that are making me love the neighborhoodiness of Brooklyn. And, I’m back in a city where I can walk. I walk through a park to get to work. I walk to the grocery. To lunch. Walking reminds you that you’re alive. It forces you to accept your physicality in a space.
I refuse to be bored. I refuse to be boring. Because I refuse to limit myself. I’m making myself do the hard things, be uncomfortable. I’m forcing myself to fail at things, on varying scales. I’m forcing myself to force myself to succeed. Because what are you doing if you aren’t moving? If you aren’t actively living your life? If you aren’t walking. Or running. Read the new place. The new people. Read each other reading things.
Zelda was tragic, but she was always something.