New York City means a lot to me. For most of my childhood, between day trips to Broadway or the Met, it was a far-off place, a special occasion, and a million things I could never touch or see or do. The city had never felt so close as it did on September 11th, 2001. These days it seems more possible. People I know live there. I could live there. The millions of things are closer to my reach and across the border from home, or a few hours drive from school, they are more tangible. But there is still the sense that is it so much greater and deeper, in more ways than population or square footage, than I can comprehend.
It is many homes and one home. Many businesses and one business. Many neighborhoods and one neighborhood. Many destinations and one destination. It is a hum through every district, a collective sigh, a chain reaction of laughter or shouting bouncing back and forth across an island. It is strength in numbers.
It is gray pavement painted with taxicabs, neon signs, graffiti murals and storefronts all illuminated by the sun’s glare off skyscraper windows and a traffic light on each corner. It is a drive across the Brooklyn Bridge at every time of day or a walk along the Hudson or through Central Park during any season. It is one tree growing in Brooklyn and many, many trees, growing along sidewalks, defying urban concrete with roots and leaves all over the city, year after year. It is the evolution of the unofficial capital of the United States and a beacon to those who seek it around the world.
Today, during the Weissman Center presentation, “New York Stories,” between clips of footage from PBS‘s 14+ hour documentary on the history of New York, the blue screen projected with the pause symbol and the word “STILL” in the upper-left hand corner. In the moments between full color and black and white images of the city, past and present, this silent background spoke volumes. I am still shocked, still scared, still wounded. I still remember. I still believe in New York.