It's damned hard for me to avoid getting nostalgic, a feeling that's only compounded when I revisit the east coast, as it is, after all, where I grew up and spent the greatest percentage of my life. Nostalgia allows you to revel in the changes that have and have not taken place and has the effect of making me simultaneously feel both old and young. I have heard it described as to be of a place, an identifier, a citizen, a denizen or any number of such related terms, when you can say that you can remember when. How it used to be back in the day.
And yet the interesting thing is that this is still not what I would call home. Everything about it is familiar and, yes, memories abound, but it isn't the place I feel the most myself. Or, to place it in better distinction, where I find I am the best version of myself. I am lazier, perhaps because of the comfort of these memories tangible and mental, knowing I can enshroud myself within them rather than doing or creating anything new. There is nothing wrong with this from time-to-time, and so I do enjoy a homecoming, but extended periods I find troubling and conducive to restlessness. It's not that I mind being at rest, but that I don't want to be at rest here.
This isn't precisely what I had in mind when I got going writing here, but so it goes, does it not Mr. Vonnegut? And it is not all for naught as it allows me to be contemplative and analytical about the world and my very small place in it. Again, the danger is how long you delve there. Walking down 10th Avenue the other evening, I had a spectacular view of The High Line, part of ambitious efforts these last few years to make the city of New York more pedestrian friendly and, in that one word popular to sum it up: livable.
It made for a pretty sight (and site) lit up to my left and, as I managed to reach 10th Avenue just past its start and exit it not far before its end, I could operate under the temporary illusion that it went on forever. For a time, I wasn't in New York at all, which made sense because rarely had I ever made my way to those precise cross streets. I thought how nice it is to have one's little pocket carved out within this gigantic space shared with others. To be so much a part and yet so separate. Which reminded me of what I consider the loneliness of cities. No matter who you are, there are those periods of downtime, or when you might find yourself traveling alone, and when you do, you can be struck by the group activity surrounding you, or by the astonishing number of people existing as individuals. I can never decide if it is conspiratorial or just creepy when cities grow quiet. For the first time I verbalized that New Yorkers aren't rude they're just, in general, not concerned with your existing around them. How could they be, when so much is going on? If one did, one might never move, paralyzed by observation and endless ocular assault.
This is the path I sometimes see the whole world headed: overstimulated by a glut of access to an immense tome of information. Someone or some ones will surely figure the way to navigate this great mass efficiently and effectively, but even for those my age, who grew into the new technological age, it can be difficult to remember what it is to be somewhere physically and mentally in the same moment. In a sense technology has become part of our environment. You could delineate this to say that happened with the earliest tools and innovations and you would have a point, but I speak instead of perhaps watching a sporting event on one's phone while being in attendance at another sporting event. And further and broader, the idea summarized as being off the grid.
But the point is that the east coast is where I'm from. And whether or not I define it as home, it certainly has helped to define what I have become. And I like this place. So thanks east coast, for always inviting me back.