December 26, 2004
Even, or perhaps especially, in a year as brutally awful as 2004, we leave December a little smarter than we began January. In these remaining few days before this year mercifully ends, I'm going to try to figure out the lessons I learned.
#1: The De-Mythologizing of Manhattan.
I was born in Brooklyn, though my parents moved out to central New Jersey when I was about a year old. Still, my grandparents lived in Brooklyn, while most of the rest of my family lived in Queens. My Dad worked in Manhattan until he started his own company in Jersey City (coincidentally, across the street from where I type this). And, of course, throughout my life I would go into Manhattan for the museums, shows, or just hanging out.
So to me Manhattan has always been this incredibly huge force of energy that my world has revolved around, and while it was possible to visit or work there, actually living there was reserved for those with Wall Street salaries or some sweet fifth-generation $35-a-month rent-controlled apartment.
So one of the things I learned this year was that while Manhattan might still be the major part of the greatest city in the world, it is still just a city, without velvet ropes on the borders keeping the riff-raff out. This year I met a lot of new people living lives pretty much like mine, except that they live in various parts of Manhattan. In addition, now that I'm working and wandering around Midtown, I'm noticing dozens of crappy little hardware stores and the like, not that much different from Jersey City, or my hometown of Old Bridge, for that matter. I suppose that like a lot of things, now that I'm part of it, it no longer seems as special.
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