My daughter, who was born in Virginia and grew up in Missouri, is in her first year of college in New York. She is enjoying both the university experience and the city at large — so much so that, upon returning to her dorm this weekend to start her second semester, she composed the following, which she calls City Lights (reprinted with her permission):
Why do I love New York?
Because of its sheer life. Because of its vibrancy. Because of its determination and its eternal strong will.
Because of the Statue of Liberty and Coney Island and the Arch in the Village and the Empire State Building and Broadway.
Because of the little places the tourists don’t know about.
Because of the pizza, the falafel, and the bagels. Because if you want Chinese food at 4am, there is always a place that delivers.
Because of its history of suffering and pollution but also of hope and renewal.
Because of Ellis Island and the tenement museums on the Lower East Side.
Because of the graffiti in Harlem.
Because of the poets who sit in the park or on the fire escapes dreaming of wondrous things.
Because of the strange street performers who can’t be found anywhere else.
Because you don’t have to impress people. Because people either love you or ignore you.
Because of The Great Gatsby and Friends and Woody Allen and George Gershwin. Because of Rhapsody in Blue.
Because everyone is creative there, in different ways.
Because everyone is lonely there. Because in our loneliness we can somehow come together there.
Because everyone there is misunderstood, or feels as if they are, and because it is okay to be misunderstood there. Because being misunderstood is art there.
Because of the synthesis of solitude and connection.
Because of the poverty and the luxury.
Because of the misery and the euphoria.
Because there are always new things to discover around every corner.
Because the city never stops or ceases to amaze. Because everything is changing, all the time, everywhere. Because it is perpetually new and exciting.
Because the city absorbs the love it receives and bounces it right back out to its people.
Because it enchants the world.
Because everyone romanticizes it, and because they are right to do so.
Because it is the greatest, most terrifying, most intriguing, most beautiful city in the world.
That is why I love New York.