Last night, I was reading a writer friend of mine’s thesis that they wrote for graduate school a couple of years ago. A random conversation we were having about a drawing lead to me reading what I thought to be an interesting title. I read the preface and was sucked in and intrigued to keep reading (hint). I was intrigued because as a person whose whole life revolved around music, I related. The first chapter-let was about how and where they grew up. The last part of that was (and I may be misquoting this) “_______ is my home. It’s all I know.”
I was in Manhattan reading this. As I took the Long Island Railroad home, I looked out of the window gazing at the place I grew up: New York City. As soon as you leave the tunnel crossing the East River, you get a good look at the bright lights buildings that make my stomping grounds the most famous city. You keep going east and you pass the place I grew up in St. Albans, Queens, and I end at the stop where I spent my high school years in Long Island only thirty minutes away.
I went to college in the south, and most of my adult friends I’ve made come from very different places. Lots of them come from small places and even if they grew up somewhere like the Southwest they all had similar stories about growing up. My friend’s thesis stated how where they grew up is majestic. Its delicacies and the quiet and serene atmosphere makes one imagine that such scenery as mountains at sunset is in quite something beautiful.
With all of this in my active memory, I thought about the first minute of Big Punisher’s video for ” You Came Up.” It starts off with the phrase “Somewhere in the Tropics” and he his surrounded by luxurious women in what looks like he is somewhere with palm trees and such. It zooms out and you see he is in fact in New York (the shot suggests its New Jersey but you’d only know that being from here). That right there always summed up how I felt about New York.
While it may not have the weather of Los Angeles, the scenery of mountains as the desert, or the clear blue ocean as the tropics, I find the manmade metropolis to be paradise. Summers here consisted of visiting museums and places my friends have seen in movies, playing in streets that became unsafe by dusk, and music video shoots from famous rappers who grew up in that same area (Where I grew up, check Tribe’s Check The Rhyme; LL Cool J’s Hey Lover, Loungin’ and cover of Bad; Nas’ Hate Me Now; and the movie Belly).
With all of that said, I never wanted to come back to New York to live. I loved Atlanta and as a country girl, Timile hated the idea of living here. Atlanta was the perfect marriage of what we wanted because it was city enough for me and country enough for her. At this point, I couldn’t see me moving back to Atlanta because that was supposed to be our home we’d go back to after Cydney was born and continue our lives. I like the idea of letting Atlanta be that dream deferred. It makes going back there all the more special when I visit.
Even now knowing how quickly we grow up in New York being exposed to so much so young makes me cringe in raising my daughter her whole young life here. There is an upside to such an upbringing. Being in such a fast-paced lifestyle you learn to think on your toes, adapt quickly, and read people incredibly fast. Once you realize that life everywhere else is much slower and keeping that “New York State of Mind” is why you can make it anywhere.
Well, I don’t know if New York is forever. I hope not. But my career and some aspects of my personal life suggest otherwise. So in the meantime, it looks like I will be spending a little more time in paradise.