I have always considered myself a New Yorker. Maybe part of that is envy, from growing up in New Jersey. As I've grown older, I've learned to wear my New Jersey roots as a badge of honor. I'm proud of it. Still, to use a line from that famous tourism ad campaign, "I love New York." I love New York even though my hometown is actually closer to Philadelphia than it is to New York.
"Some folks like to get away. Take a holiday from the neighborhood. "I've just always identified more with New York than any other place. A lot of that is growing up a fan of Billy Joel, more so than Bruce Springsteen. A lot of that is my family being from Jersey City, right across the Hudson River. My parents grew up in the shadow of Manhattan. And let's be honest: New York is a hell of a lot cooler.
There is a framed picture of the New York city skyline as we once knew it hanging in our bedroom. I gave it to My Director for Christmas 2001, three months after the attack on our city:
"I don't have any reason. I don't want to waste more time. I'm in a New York state of mind."That song by Billy Joel was the last song we put on our wedding CD, the thank-you gift we gave to our guests. A compilation of songs about us, about our love and our life. Is there anything better than his slow, cool piano solo in the beginning of this song? The saxophone at the end? We were married in Pennsylvania, where My Director is from. I am born and raised in New Jersey. We lived in Hoboken, the town right next to Jersey City, at the time. But we were always in a New York state of mind. We always will be in our hearts.
"It was so easy living day by day out of touch with the rhythm and blues."I treat New York like one of my siblings. Respect. Love. Loyalty. With full knowledge of some of its more annoying quirks and habits. Drivers that insist on speeding up to red lights. Cabs who think having the right of way means they are legally permitted to run you over. The throngs of tourists in Times Square who pose as a daily obstacle course as I make my way to the bus ride home. And whatever that appetite suppressant of a stench is on summer mornings that is so gag-worthy it makes eating anything on the go impossible.
|"I'm walkin' here." (I've done this many times myself.)|
Most of my time in New York is spent at work. And I must admit there are times I'm walking from place to place and hear a car backfire or a crash-boom at a construction site and it'll startle me. For a split second I'll fear the worst again. But if 9/11 taught me anything at all, it taught me that our city will always be here. They can knock down buildings but they can't knock us down.
I love New York. For its strength, its majesty, its diversity. But most of all, I love it for its resiliency.
Enjoy this great live version of Billy Joel's tribute to the greatest city in the world:
Last year I shared the story of one of my greatest professional accomplishments, and how it serves as a daily reminder of 9/11. You can read it here.