Saturday, December 20, 2008

New York

My favorite city of all time. As a child, I visited NYC on family vacations: once as a 3rd grader in 1994 and again in 2001 as a junior in high school, checking out NYU. I remember being vaguely fascinated by the constant busyness, getting sick on the long hike up the Statue of Liberty, and buying some awesome shoes. I also remember feeling heartbroken as I tripped over beggars, terrified of crazy taxi drivers, and thinking this was a nice city to visit but not to live in forever. Little did I know I would fall hopelessly in love with it.

I moved to Brooklyn the summer of 2006. I had just spent 8 months in Europe and as magical of a time that was, I was excited to be in a place where: 1. I was fluent in the native language and; 2. I wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb because of how I looked. That last part was one of the most refreshing things about the city that I didn't appreciate before. I also loved New Yorkers' ability to look amazing all the time because they wore their confidence on their sleeve. It didn't matter if they had just rolled out of bed in their pj's or were dressed to the freakin' nines or were dressed up as a Santa running around with hundreds of other Santas: everyone looked great. I also loved how I was constantly surrounded by people but I could maintain a level of anonymity. But that was also something I hated sometimes.

I also hated the stench of the meat packing district, the suffocating heat of the subways, the thick crowds, the stench of the subways, the price of a drink, how the subways would break down and you never knew how long it would take til they were back up and running again, wandering tourists...did I mention the decrepit subway system? Most of all, I hated the irony of feeling an unbearable loneliness at times despite being surrounded by so many people. But I guess that goes for anyone, anywhere.

Despite the hates, in the end, I fell in love with the place somehow. Maybe it was shopping every weekend in SoHo. Maybe it was how the guy at Bodum tried to cheer me up when I was having a bad day at work. Maybe it was my Kaoroake birthday bash with friends. Or maybe it was the simple pleasure of sitting in Union Square with a plate of Whole Foods goodness and people watching. But it was most likely watching Kobayashi win the hot dog eating contest at Coney Island and then working up the nerve to ride the legendary Cyclone twice.

This post was prompted by an article I read on the NYTimes. A series of nighttime photographs taken by Japanese filmmaker, Yuichi Hibi, when he first arrived in NYC at the age of 22. His love for the city grew as he took these walks from midnight to dawn. Of course, things changes and as NYC lost its silence and solitude, Hibi fell out of love. It is said that he hasn't taken a photo of the city since 2002. Below are some shots of the city as he once loved it. The rest of the slideshow is available here.

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