The Sketch Book

City Child

How cute is this little munchkin wearing Oscar de la Renta?

So… with my wedding mere weeks away I keep getting asked “are you going to stay in NYC after you’re married?” and “are you going to have children in NYC?” And I find myself continually bewildered by this discussion. Right now, I just hope I can walk all the way down the aisle without fainting/tripping. I really have no idea what our future will look like once I get to the end of the aisle.

But, these questions have made me more aware and observant of my life here in the city. I catch myself examining each day, each experience, wondering if I want to give it up and move to some place that is low-stress or stick it out in the center of the universe for a year… ten years… forever?

It is certainly very hard to live here at times. But I’ve never been more in love with any place I’ve ever lived. In fact, I don’t really know if I had any idea that you could love a place until I found this city. I guess that’s true of all love isn’t it? As I examine each part of my day here looking for reasons why it’s too hard or too stressful or too expensive, NYC has a way of bewitching me in the most unexpected ways and keeping me coming back for more…

Yesterday, I was riding the subway thinking to myself, See, this is hard. I’m underground rocketing through a tunnel with four people pressed directly against my body and I’m pretty sure the guy behind me is reading The Goldfinch along with me on my kindle for iPhone app… surely it would be hard to do this forever, especially with a child!

And just then a little girl and her mom boarded the train. The little girl was about six. And because she was six, she began a full volume conversation with her mom, the center of her universe…

“Mom, this train is different. It has orange seats not blue seats. And the metal is a different color” Her mom explained that there are different models of subway cars and that this one was older. She considered that for a minute and then said “I like the blue seats better”

And then her mom pulled the coolest mom card. She told the little girl about this recent news story about a rat that was doing a victory lap around a subway car. The little girl’s face lit up with a mixture of glee and horror imagining the people climbing onto the seats screaming. “Was it a blue seat one or an orange seat one?” she wanted to know. The mom smiled at her line if questioning, seeing where her little brain was going with this information. “I’m pretty sure it was an orange seater” she said conspiratorially and the little girl tightened her grip around her moms leg.

“Mom…. would you pick me up if a rat was in our train car?” she asked.

“Of course”

“What if the rat tried to climb up your leg to get me?”

“I will always save you, even from the rat”

It was a classic only-in-new-york conversation. The kind that I imagine Woody Allen overheard and then returned home to write Annie Hall. This little girl was learning about the depth of her mother’s love thanks to a subway rat. Her mother and she were squished together hurtling through space with strangers pressed against them, and somehow they’d made the trip fun with the rat story. City children have the most fascinating existence. NYC, you always know how to make me smile.

3 Responses to “City Child”

  • I was totally thinking of the rat story reading this, and then you go right into it! Haha! Oh man I just would DIE. Literally.

    Anyway, that is the WORST when you have a wedding, everyone asks all of these personal questions like it’s ok! Back off everyone! Enjoy being married for a few years, especially in NYC. Travel, see shows, eat at great restaurants, and enjoy each other!

  • Karen Jackson says: April 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    How beautiful. Could you do something for us?

  • This is such a beautiful way to capture childhood in New York City…I often compare childhood in New York to my own idyllic suburban childhood, and you’ve done a lovely job capturing the thrill of the city kid. Lovely read!

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