A Lot Can Change in a New York Minute


I’ve lived in New York now for more than nine years. It’s one of the biggest cities in the world, and yet as I walk its streets everything seems familiar. It still amazes me that my casual pedestrian commutes take me past Radio City Music Hall, Broadway, and the Empire State Building. Just another day.

But even more so, I’m in awe of how quickly this city changes. Nine years of walking these streets, and I still discover new things. The Bank of America Tower at Bryant Park used to be home to a questionable Dunkin’ Donuts where I’d meet a friend for breakfast (and once had an awkward confrontation with a homeless man toting a garbage bag).

Last week I stumbled on  a gorgeous wood-paneled lobby in an office building in the West 50s. Has that always been there? Did I just miss it before, or has this city, once again, recreated itself overnight? I suppose it’s like that with people. How much do I miss about the people I meet as I get stuck in the rhythm of my daily routine?

I’ve also realized so many places here are like pinpoints on a map, marking moments of my life on the streets of this city. Mileposts that mark significant changes, yes, but even more lovely perhaps are the little memories that have made my time here… well, mine.

Like Tompkins Square Park, where my infatuation with New York matured into a life-long love affair.  The park was the start of many a “Carrie Bradshaw day,” begun with coffee in hand watching the dogs play, followed by a walk through the Lower East Side wearing red ballet flats and a silk scarf in my hair.

Or Rockefeller Park, my favorite urban oasis of which no one has heard, where a completely new dream for my life was birthed, and where I returned a year later to celebrate its fruition.

A stoop in the West 50s, between 9th and 10th, where I paused to weep, unable to walk further in that moment, desperate for a place of solace in the city that never sleeps.

My earliest days here were spent far downtown, weekends dedicated to eating Cosi salads and buying theatre tickets on a plaza that no longer exists; in the shadow of buildings that collapsed so quickly, so shockingly, to the ground just weeks after I moved away from them.

Sometimes the changes to the city make me sad. My old block in the East Village was filled with empty storefronts the last time I visited. The city must have finally closed down that cafe at which I ate breakfast nearly every Saturday, despite my better judgment after their “extended vacation” — which I accidentally discovered was due to “persistent rodent violations.” But it gives me all the more reason to pause and remember. And to recognize how I’ve changed.

I’m so grateful I haven’t remained the same for the last nine years. I don’t suppose I can expect New York to do so, either. We all grow up some day.


3 Responses to “A Lot Can Change in a New York Minute”

  1. 1 Kim 30 August 2010 at 12:34

    This is awesome Jen. It’s been a complete joy to watch and sometimes be apart of this journey. xxoo Kim

  2. 3 Kati 10 September 2010 at 08:54

    You’re an awesome writer! Very intriguing. I can’t help but read everything!

    I would LOVE to live in NY. I’ve only been once. When I was 16. Someday, I hope to take my husband there for the first time.

    My MIL is taking my 7 year old neice there for “her trip” in October.

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