Monday, January 16, 2012


“It is necessary to find one's own way in New York. New York City is not hospitable. She has no heart. She is not charming. She is not sympathetic. She is rushed and noisy and unkempt, a hard, ambitious, irresolute place. When she glitters she is very, very bright, and when she does not glitter she is dirty. New York does nothing for those of us who are inclined to love her except implant in our hearts a homesickness that baffles us until we go away from her, and then we realize why we are restless. At home or away, we are homesick for New York not because New York used to be better and not because she used to be worse but because the city holds us and we don't know why.” ―Maeve Brennan

I am going back to Jamaica for a few days. My mom will be turning 90 and I am going home. But I am leaving another real home to do it, this bricked over city where I have sunk roots with a good man and raised our children. I knew when I was 5 years old and my family was visiting my aunt and her family in New York City on vacation, that as soon as I was old enough I would move to the city. I don't know why I knew it, what made me decide it so early on. Maybe it was the way I felt as we walked the sidewalks, plugged in, buzzed, more free to be who I truly was, more fully alive. Somehow I knew it was my place. So I applied and went to college here, and then I stayed. And all these years I have been waiting for the call of another place, another way of life. I wonder sometimes if I have grown deaf or numb, because New York is an unforgiving city to live in, and yet here I remain. Some days the walls close in and I miss the wide blue sea. But a cure is always at hand. Just walk beyond your door and the city infuses you with something, an energy, the electric current of humanity flowing all around you, and even in your anonymity—maybe because of it—you feel absolved, released, not so odd or haunted or alone.


  1. I never spent time in NY except for the briefest of visits when I was quite young and yet somehow I grok what you're saying. I can imagine it. Have a beautiful time with your mother.

  2. I've never loved a place I've lived in as much as I loved New York City. Truly.

    Have a wonderful trip, Angella, and happy birthday to your mama.

  3. I'm a country boy. Whenever I visit NY, I am completely overwhelmed and barely know how to function. I'm always impressed with how easily people like you and your Family get around it. But for me, it's too big. One size does not fit all.
    I'm so happy that you can go see your Mom. Have a great time!
    Your Friend, m.

  4. Going to New York and seeing a play is on my bucket list. I have to say it is more because I love live theatre than a desire to go to New York. Just the thought of a big city scares me!

  5. In another, perhaps a parallel universe, I too, live in New York City.
    But in this one, I live so far away.
    Bless you and your fellow-city-dwellers, who create that land of myth, of opportunity. Bless you for being the ones how make it there. I hear that if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
    I believe it.
    But safe journeys. Come home.

  6. dear angella,

    i believe we have many homes, and for me, too, NYC will be the place where a very important part of me lives, always. i felt it, too, immediately, coming from a small town. i knew it was where i would become the person i am now. but another part of me yearns for solitude and quiet and less external stimulation and the reflected light and smell of the ocean. i thought i would be in NYC until i died. another door opens; i have left the door behind ajar.
    have a wonderful, restorative trip. how i envy you-- the very idea of journeying to see a 90-year-old mother who you cherish. safe travels. hold on to every moment.

    love, susan

  7. You certainly are not numb. NYC has a tune. But I think you have a beautiful balance of how much city you let in and how much you you keep for yourself. Somehow in all that anonymity, I am more aware of myself.
    Safe travels!

  8. Safe and happy travels Angella. Thank you for allowing us into your life and experiences in your fabulous city. Your writing is so brilliant and vibrant I can feel the pulse of NYC all the way to Chicago. Thank you for that.

  9. I miss the city most days and dream of living there again someday. A girl can dream.
    Happy Birthday to your Mom and safe travels to you.

  10. Happy Birthday to your mom who turns 90 (my father will soon) and safe travels. Enjoy Jamaica. You make me ache for a life that I never realized, but could have. Love that picture too. And you.

    xoxo dd

  11. what a wonderful way to look at out concrete jungle. happy travels!

  12. Hope you have a lovely time with your mom & family celebrating!
    I DREAM of visiting New York.
    One Day. . . . .

  13. Happy Birthday to your Mom and safe travels to you. It's funny how we end up where we do, isn't it? And strange how we wonder if this is where we're supposed to be, or is it somewhere else? I miss the ocean too, and long for the mountains, landlocked as I am in the middle. I guess home is where my husband and my children are, yes?
    Your description of the city and its pull on you is sublime.

  14. I hope your travels are stress-free and your mother's birthday is filled with love and joy. Can't wait to hear about it. :)

  15. Safe travels, dear friend. And always remember that wherever we roam, we take a little bit of where we have been along with us. Sometimes, home, is wherever we are at the moment.

    Much love to your wonderful mother on this momentous occasion. L'chaim!

  16. There are cities with souls that speak to souls. Others that are empty of all vitality. I have visited both kinds and settled in one of the former. I find it hard sometimes to realize there are so many people who do not share this sense of place-as-home and home-as-mother.