22 August 2010

An Affair to Remember

So, about eight months after I moved to New York, I finally took some time out and did something for myself.  I had decided to get a tattoo, and I wanted to go see a movie in a theater (which I hadn't done since leaving Miami.)  So one not particularly special day in the Summer of 1999, I went and saw the (then) new Julia Roberts film, 'Notting Hill.'   I was twenty three years old, and alone in New York City.  For those of you who have known me for a long time, you will know that flying solo in a strange place is not always easy for me.  Sure, my personality makes it easy for me to interact with people, and sometimes it is even fun.  But in those days, I was fighting just to stay afloat, and at that point, I had only made one real friend in New York (Jackie.)  I was very lonely and still a bit intimidated and in awe of NYC.  But I was determined to make this place I had loved so hard for so long my home. But, I digress...

As I was saying, one not so special summer day in 1999, I went to a small theater in the West Village and saw 'Notting Hill.'  I had forgotten the sensation of sitting in a theater, surrounded by strangers, being taken en masse on this journey to another reality.  For those of you who don't know the film, it is a love story, where two worlds collide and don't always mix.  I walked in feeling alone and terribly homesick.  When I came out of the theater, I was recharged and again ready to face the world.  I walked a few blocks to 6th Ave, and got my (first) tattoo.  It is on my right upper arm-the Chinese character representing 'Universal Spirit.'  I was still working for GAP back then, and was a lot trendier than I am today with regards to dress and style.  I hadn't yet defined who I was, I hadn't the slightest idea that seeing that film would bring forward one of the parts of me that I love most.  I am a hopeless romantic.  Not necessarily just in the sense of interpersonal relationships.  My love affair with New York started in earnest that afternoon.  Something inside me changed.  I can't even really explain why or how.  But it was that day that I found my source of internal hope.  I was always an optimist.  But I had never found inside myself a source for that optimism.  It may sound silly-hell-maybe it is silly, but it is a part of who I have become.  Of who I want to continue growing into.  Of the world I want give to my family when I take my leave at some distant future date.

It's funny.  People know that I love this film.  Before today, however, I have never told anyone exactly why.   I always kept parts of my romance with this City private (and what could be more private than our first real date?)  Everyone knows the story of our first meeting, in October of 1981 when I decided I would someday live here.  Everyone knows I spent my youth fascinated by all things New York.  Everyone knows I moved here without really planning or thinking about how I was going to survive here.  Everyone knows that I am still here, twelve years later, two years past the date that allows you to call yourself a New Yorker.  But my romance with the City, the personal relationship I have with it, and the deep love and admiration I have for the people who live here is so much more than I have ever talked about before.  It is one of my closely guarded intimacies.  These five boroughs and I have had some amazing times, both good and not so good, and there are more adventures ahead.  My greatest romance has wound up being not with any one of the millions of inhabitants of this concrete jungle, but with the jungle itself...


  1. Coleman, Notting Hill is one of my favorite Movies. There is a scene, in the park, on a bench with a small "sign" on it about a woman who loved to sit there and the man who just loved to sit by her. Do you remember the exact quote? I've forgotten it but I remember the feeling. I love it. and I love your blog.

  2. the sign says "For June, from _____ who always sat beside her."