A few weeks ago, an anonymous person very thoughtfully sent me a track called NYC by Brolin. This person must know me quite well, cause the song is to my taste exactly. Not only that, but I’d been meaning to make a short film about my trip to New York (as well as the extended stay due to Hurricane Sandy), and Brolin’s minimalistic sound space and ghostly vocals gave me an atmosphere of warmth and wonder that matched my footage perfectly.
Personally, I don’t think I could ever create anything and name it NYC. It’s a city with too much depth and complexity to try encapsulating in a verse or song or moving image, then tie it up with three simple letters. I can’t wait to go back again some day to capture as much as I can.
I walk towards Penn Station, after being unceremoniously dumped along with several other confused passengers at Grand Central by shuttle. While it’s hard to get a sense of how long it’ll take, the grid gives me the courage to continue on foot instead of waiting for a transferring shuttle.
I carry screenshots of a map on my phone, which I soon discover is a poor substitute for an actual map when navigating New York. The roads occasionally run in strange directions or skip numbers, and it’s enough to throw off my orientation.
Still, the city feels smaller than I thought. So many stories happen here, told in movies and novels and songs, that I’ve always expected it to be a size relative to the dreams people have. This is what F. Scott Fitzgerald must have felt when he climbed the Empire State Building, saw the limits of the city for the first time from within, and was left “with the awful realization that New York was a city after all and not a universe”.
I passed through here many years ago when I was too young to be scared of what could go wrong, and too much in love to care anyway. That journey — on my way to Jersey by bus — was far longer than this one through Toronto by plane. I survived then, that’s how I know I’ll survive this, no matter what happens.
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