there there

This morning (this was in January), I summoned up every ounce of the misanthropic city-dwelling spirit of Fran Leibowitz energy, as I walked through a film crew at my entrance to the park with my breviary and morning coffee
“How many mornings will you be here?” I ask a PA with the most thin of all possible veils over my annoyance.

It is dehumanizing to live in a place that is treated less as a place and more as a commodity by the wealthy.

I feel myself frustrated with New York returning to its old self—which is a place that belongs to money and not to people—the film crews are back, the treating of this place as a venue for money, or a venue for power, it’s not a place where people live.

If a film crew set itself outside your driveway, then you would rightfully be annoyed. Not because you “own” the street, but because the street is for your living and doing and working and being. It is not for people to film—to make a pretend street, to be a backdrop in someone else’s story. It is a real place, where you are living your story.

I keep thinking about how impossible it is to be charming and full of effort for capturing someone else’s attention as an old person. You are so stuck in your ways. It takes so much grace to be open to others. It is hard to put up a front for someone else’s pleasure.

But I think part of this is that—hopefully, by this point—I take pleasure in what is actually there. The rough edges, the sharp phrases, the missteps and errors. The idiosyncrasies and the constant struggles to break bad habits and form new, good ones. That dialogue between the ideal self and the self that is is perhaps the most interesting thing about a person. Much more interesting than artifice or performance. I love performance, but only when what you’re performing is real.

Anyhow, now I am even more annoyed (in March) at how loud everything has gotten again. I’m having to reintroduce myself to a city I loved when it was very, very quiet and dead. I don’t know if there is anything as tender and intimate as loving a city when everyone important—all the film crews, all the moneymakers, all the people who make the noise happen—have left it.

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