How to find novelty in the familiar.
Living in one place long enough, you forget to see it with curious fresh eyes. You walk up the same train station, drive the same route to work, take the same street to your yoga practice, gym, dance class; go to the same cafe or bar for a drink with friends. None of this is bad per se. There is something beautiful, comforting even, about the familiar faces and places you encounter every day. Yet shaking up the pot ignites renewed curiosity in a place that has become part of your everyday life.
I challenge myself to the newness of things in order to avoid getting into a much dreaded rut. Daily life is not often full of wonder, unless we make a concentrated effort. Practice, go to work, teach, give massages, come home, cook, write. Rinse and Repeat. I try to stay true to my commitment to novelty, curiosity and keeping a fresh eye on things I see everyday. The reason? I have to gaze at things with absence of predictive air, feeding my need to stay present so I don’t get lost in the same story line. So I don’t get lost in myself.
Routines, set schedules, predictable outcomes can be equal part comforting and a trap. Looking up at that special moment when all you want to do is bury yourself in the same thing over and over again requires a little extra effort. I say this because falling in love with a place you don’t consider your home requires effort, presence and a sense of wonder. Falling in love with it when it’s all you know is twice as challenging.
New York is not an easy broad ( and for me she IS a broad — not a lady, or a missus, or a woman she’s a broad with whatever images you care to understand reflect that characteristic).
She is harsh, unromantic and somewhat uglypretty. ( a Greek word not really translatable “ασχημόρμοφη” ) a trait she shares with my hometown Athens, who’s femininity is always cast over with a shadow of the unkempt or wild. Taking her for granted and ignoring her nuanced beauty is easy. She’s not glamorous or sexy like Paris or Rome but she’s enchanting, and when you take a moment to notice; she will make you fall in love with her. Unlike my love for Athens, which is in my blood, my love for New York is a work in progress; peppered with anger, loneliness, pure joy, grittiness and forgiveness. New York is a cinematic love, Athens is a poetic one.
Living and learning to love a city that is not my place of birth is about a deeper kind of love. It’s about understanding the hustle, the grind, and the soul of this metal giant, as the facade of its deep felt inherent kindness and humanity. Some days it takes effort and patience not reserved for your average New Yorker …. but just like I’m not your average Athenian, I’m certainly not your average New Yorker.
Belonging to this city is a work in progress, and like most die heard New Yorkers will never miss a chance to state that: you don’t deserve to be called one unless you’ve spit blood, sweat and tears for it. Noticing it’s magic, however belongs to everyone regardless of socioeconomic status, birthplace, or location. Ive learned to love New York as I hade learned to love myself. She has become a part of me and I a part of her, and every now and then she enchants me, this gal of mine.