On New York:
What they never told you about New York was that it was whatever you thought it was. It was like an experienced prostitute who always remembered to wear the lingerie you bought her, who knew what you liked and either gave it or withheld it every time you engaged her services. You molded New York to your perception of it in a way not unlike the idea some people have that heaven is what you want it to be: that you create it, deal with it, live with the consequences maybe forever. That’s why people were always writing about New York, singing about it, dreaming about it, talking about it, trying to rationalize it. It kept going because no one could ever quite figure it out. Everyone else’s description, once you heard it, left you confused and self-conscious because it didn’t completely match your own.
New York didn’t have its own meaning. It had meaning put upon it. The city possessed no identity beyond the concrete, steel, bricks, and dog shit. No soul to speak of, material or otherwise. Just the heavy velvet curtains at the Metropolitan Opera and the glazed dark tabletops of Soho and the hairy-lush lawn in Central Park, all onto which we spat our own stories as if from an old movie projector, and did it in such a thick constancy that to walk around the block was to walk through a thousand other people’s holograms. No wonder we were wired and tired. No wonder we ignored the crazy people on the subway, as tourists and babies gawked. They weren’t saying anything we weren’t thinking already.
All of us were philosopher-scientists, each with her own Theory of New York (which, some suggested, we should rename Higgs Boson City in light of its behavioral characteristics). There was nothing like consensus, no possibility of consensus on the matter, not with ten million opinions. This is blue! You shouted. This is my blue. This is the only blue. But for all your insisting, no one else saw the same shade. And, by the next moment, it was likely that you’d change your mind anyway. After seeing something beautiful or bizarre on the next street corner, you shapeshifted New York again two minutes later.
Paris could be Paris. That was a part of its shtick. But New York could be Paris too, and then Delhi, and then Shanghai if you willed it with your feet, your cab fare, with your senses and your subway pass. You learned not to trust it, after a while, and therefore you learned you couldn’t trust yourself. You moved to New York and then five or ten or twenty years after, you paused to count the years and realized that none of them had been spent in the same city, and where the fuck had you been?