New York State of Mind

The other day, I had to be in the great city of Manhattan, that architectural miracle, the center of the universe, as it is so modestly named. I noticed that virtually every cool Manhattanite seemed to be wearing a scarf, no matter that it was 71 degrees that day. Were I savvy about these things, I imagine I would’ve been able to recognize a lot of designer sunglasses. Owning a mutt seems to have become a trend in the city, which is a very good thing, in my opinion. I saw fewer purebred dogs than hybrids, and a lot of pit bull mixes, which indicates more people are rescuing dogs from pounds. Good for you, New Yorkers!

New York is my road not taken—when I was younger, I worked in the city and lived just across the Hudson River. I always wanted to live in the city proper, though, and become one of those confident women who could stride down Madison in heels and recognize a designer bag from fifty feet. I wanted to be a regular at a cool restaurant and be able to transfer on a subway without fear of ending up in an outer borough, completely lost. I’d live in a small but charming apartment on the upper West Side, and my neighbors would adore me. My friends and I would get together for drinks, and I’d have an urbane, dryly funny boyfriend who could quote Sartre and yet still liked Star Trek movies.

Instead, as you probably know, I married a firefighter (he does like Star Trek movies, thank heavens). I live in my hometown on the very street where I grew up, next door to my mom. I have lots of high-heeled shoes, though I can’t bring myself to go for the really expensive kind…it just feels morally wrong for some reason. I’m not terribly confident, but I’m not a trembling wreck, either. I know I’m a good mom, and my kids know they’re fiercely loved. My house is small and sweet: a farmhouse with lots of flowers and a front porch. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.

And yet, there’s something very melancholic about wandering through Manhattan, through the breathtakingly perfect Central Park, down the streets that are graced with townhouses and flowering trees. I see those people I might have become, walking the road I left. It’s possible that someday I’ll live in the city, but I’ll always be an observer, never the real deal. And that’s fine with me.

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