Friday, September 14, 2012

New York City Girl

The world seemed glorious when we left the hospital with Claire for the first time. Truly, the sun greeted us more warmly, the breeze more gently, the ground held our feet…"Wait, what’s up with all the litter on the street? Ridiculous amounts of trash…"

As a parent, both good and bad seem more magnified. As a long time New Yorker, I used to be able to tolerate the city’s many bad parts. Parenthood has literally made me want to run for the hills (or just complain more loudly about NYC being loud).

I often wonder why we are raising a daughter in an over-populated, polluted place, short on greenery and civility. Our lack of square footage makes it tough for our newly walking daughter to get up enough steam before having to turn around and run the other way. I regularly detect marijuana smoke coming from the apartment down the hall. Claire learned the sound of a car horn before the tweet of a bird, the color of a school bus before a bee. I won’t bore you with my litany of complaints about the subway.

But speaking of the subway, let’s not forget about New York City and serendipity...

Yesterday, Claire and I hustled our way up the subway steps, and Malang Jobateh, Kora player, happened into our world. Breaking from the rest of the restless masses, we stopped to listen to him play. I had the good fortune of hearing the music through the innocent ears of a baby. Claire was mesmerized, eyes wide open, fully present. She even jammed to the beat a bit! 

I have waited 45 years for an introduction to the musical instrument, the Kora. Claire has beaten me by 44. She has also listened to mandolins, accordions, violins, flutes, guitars, drums, harps, cellos, basses and saxophones. She has danced with the Hare Krishnas, protested with the Falun Gong and partied with Puerto Ricans. She has rocked out at a punk rock concert at the Hudson Piers, and watched men and women dance to traditional Polish music in Central Park.

In true NYC fashion, we have planned for none of these experiences. Each performance, each gathering has been a happening. We have been spontaneously invited to join in the merriment by those caught up in celebration.

“Only in New York” is an ecumenical phrase. It can refer equally to the numerous nuisances of New York, as well as its many nuances. The challenge is remaining open to the contradiction of it all. A great place to start is by being in the moment -- something babies do very well.

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1 comment:

  1. Omg, we are the same person. Seriously - I am struggling with the same thing, raising my little boy in New York. I keep dreaming about moving to Denver, even though I've never been there. Every once in a while I have a quintessentially New York moment that renews my faith. I wonder which side will win over in the end.


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