Bear and the Forest

“I first visited New York in 1973. There was a garbage strike. It (obviously) stunk. I found a hair in my pizza. The subway was gross. It exuded fear. Don’t go, you’ll get mugged,” said, my mother.

She had the same monologue, anytime New York was mentioned. Her heart stayed true to California. Unintentionally, her grim descriptions ignited a life long fascination with New York City. I yearned to ride that filthy subway, observe crazies in their natural habitat, and experience the deafening screeches of car horns.

On a humid day in 2000, my native California tootsies touched New York pavement. I was awaiting a decaying paradise. Instead, I found a cheerful island to (eventually) call home.

Broadway theaters sparkled with camp. The food delighted awe-inspiring taste buds. Sky-scrappers collided with the sky.

New Yorkers were quite friendly. They helped me find that puzzling tourist trap, I yearned to see. Sadly, I returned to suburbia. Naturally, I brought home a suitcase full of Broadway memorabilia. Eventually, I moved to New York City.

Several years, three apartments, and too many bagels later, I found myself lovingly jaded. Everything became second nature. The subways were maddening. Rent kept increasing and favorite haunts slowly closed. I had graduated from that wide-eyed (Riverside, CA) transplant to a jaded New Yorker, with an opinion about everything.

I attempted to keep the love affair burning with flames of passion. Long afternoons at my favorite indie bookshops, museum trips, and coffee shop visits couldn’t mend the jaded heart.

Increasingly, I fantasized about misty Portland. Schlepping my groceries into a craftsman style house, eating bacon with every meal, and gazing into hills adorned with pine trees, it warmed the heart. Longing for the Pacific Northwest, I had to consider it just a fantasy and find a way to embrace New York again. It was a rigorous task.

On a Sunday afternoon, I headed to the Sidewalk Café. It’s a favorite boozy brunch spot in the East Village. I complained about New York and it’s many parallels with Anna. After a mimosa infused brunch, we strolled the East Village. It was cold. The sky had a golden tint.

We headed to the shrine of vintage clothes, Buffalo Exchange (not very hipster, insert sarcasm). Japanese punk music blasted. Quirky fashion delighted my eyes.

I helped my friend pick out 90’s inspired outfits. We laughed. Enthusiastically, I browsed the colorful wracks. Wow, for once, I wasn’t dreaming about bacon and pine trees. I was actually relishing the moment.

Afterwards, we left the shop, a little hipper and happier. Donuts, coffee and a crosstown stroll, my jaded heart melted. It was a temporary relief. The next day, my jaded heart stayed happily intact.

Throughout my years, I learned being jaded is a wonderful thing. It’s a badge of honor. Mostly, it says, I’ve lived life, seen quite a bit and questioned everything.

Although, New York has become more predictable, it still retains thrilling moments. Awaiting a Broadway performance, good conversation at the local dive, and enjoying Tompskin’s Square Park will always brighten up my day. It’s almost as wonderful as a touching New York pavement for the first time.

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