Before I start, let me just say that the HIMYM finale last night broke my heart a hundred times. They pushed more buttons than a 9 year old me in my apt building’s elevator.
I was born in the Bronx, in a part of the Bronx called Co-op City. I lived there until the 3rd Grade. My New York experience was very different from other peoples’, and I feel weird about that. I didn’t live in a row house and hang out on the stoop. I lived in a massive 33 story apartment building with a courtyard of asphalt and a playground of sand and aging wood. I didn’t have a bodega on the corner. I had an island of shops floating in the middle of the street.
Co-op City is very isolated from the rest of the City. There is no direct subway line (you have to take the bus to the Pelham stop and catch the 6 or just take the bus crosstown). Because I moved out before I was old enough to travel alone, I never got to explore the city. It’s not that big a deal, but it somehow makes me feel unauthentic. It doesn’t help that I speak very slow, with a bit of a drawl. I had severe speech problems as a kid and even today, I can be uncomfortable to listen to.
When I got older, I took regular trips into the city to drink and see shows, but I only went to certain areas. If you asked me how to get somewhere in the West Village, I could probably lead you right there (although it’s been years since I was a regular). Outside of that, I’m fuzzier.
Here’s the issue: I love history, and I am very enamored with the history of New York. I’ve never done the touristy New York things. I’ve never gone to the Empire State Building. I’ve never gone to the statue of liberty (nor would I, it’s a long, hot, trip to the top). But I would like to see Castle Garden. I would like to visit the Lightship Ambrose. I’d like to do the lit walk in Central Park. I want to go inside Trinity Church. I want to experience the city like a tourist.
I don’t like tourists.
I don’t want to walk around with my nose in a tour book. I don’t want to have to carry a map. But the truth is: I am a tourist. I may have once been a New Yorker, but now I’m not. I’m somewhere in between.
I need to just suck it up and go full tourist. There’s a lot of history I want to absorb. I’ll try not to stand in the middle of the sidewalk and block shit up.
Here’s a question for you: Are you more of a New Yorker if you are born there and move away after 10 years, or if you move there as an adult and live there 10 years?