How to Fall Back in Love With Your City
What makes you feel connected to the place where you live?
When this is over, I will never pass the musician in the black leather beret, who stands on Poet’s Walk in Central Park playing his saxophone, without tipping him. The sound has always just been there in the background, as natural as the birds chirping. But I never realized how much I associated it with the essence of my adopted hometown, until now.
When This Is Over, I’ll Live By the Sea
Before the pandemic, stepping off the treadmill always felt impossible
Central Park is the only backyard I have, so I take my young children there every day. And lately, I look forward to hearing the musician as I approach the gigantic lilac bush that borders Sheep’s Meadow. This lilac is so audacious that its fragrance penetrates our face masks. I stick my nose in it and listen to the sax player jazzing up “My Favorite Things” and then, as the song goes, I don’t feel so bad.
I’ve always had a newcomer’s zeal for this place. I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, and after my mother died there when I was in my twenties, I kept searching for somewhere that would feel like home. I spent a lost decade on the West Coast in a city that never embraced me. When an unexpected, life-changing job called me to New York, I found my place. To the suburban friends who can’t imagine why we choose to live without a washer/dryer in our little apartment (among countless other urban inconveniences), I’ve adamantly maintained that this horrifically crowded, exhausting, expensive, but rewarding city is the only place where I want to live and raise children.
But the city I love is transforming before my eyes. I’ve seen the stores and restaurants shut down all around us. Our favorite diner, where all the staff knew my kids — and my kids knew which beloved server has a Slytherin tattoo — is gone. Neighbors in our building have died. Friends have cleared out for country homes or to join their suburban families. It’s not all bad, of course: For weeks I heard the reliable 7 p.m. clap for essential workers; then…