It’s The People, New Yorkers, That Makes Me Love NYC
Many years ago, I was in New Orleans with some time on my hands. So I got a tattoo. It was going to be my first tattoo. I got the outline of the state of New York. New York is my home. When people ask me to tell them about myself, I usually first say, “I’m a New Yorker.” The question than goes, where in New York? I follow up with ‘I’m a born-and-bred kid from New York City.” For those from NYC know it is hard for many outside of the Tri-State area to understand. “Wait, people actually live there?” Yes, and we are all proud of it. Often to other people’s annoyance.
Since then, I have gotten numerous tattoos. They all mean something to me. I got the façade of Yankee Stadium on my right arm. I followed that with the coordinates to the World Trade Center towers on my right bicep. A few years later, I got a water tower on my left upper arm, a nod to New York City’s skyline. Next up was the gargoyle of one of my favorite building, The Chrysler building on my left bicep. The New Yorker hotel sign is over heart. The word ‘Excelsior,’ the New York state motto, is just above my left knee.
One day when I thought my New York tattoo theme, or fetish as some have called it, was done, I was walking down lower 5th avenue and looked up and saw the Empire State Building in a very different light. It’s not that I didn’t like the Empire State Building; I thought it was cliché. There were so many other buildings I was obsessed with growing up: The Chrysler, Flatiron Building, Seagram Building, Lever House, The UN, The McGraw Hill Building, The Woolworth Building, Grand Central Station, and so on. However, there I was looking up at the Empire State building and thought, ‘that’s it.’ So I got a tribute to the Empire State Building on my right arm.
I love New York. When people ask me if I’ve ever been in love before, New York is what first pops into my mind. And yes, I am single. For me, New York is a living and breathing thing. For me, it’s never really been about the buildings, although dramatic, or the arts and culture, although inspiring, or the food, which is fucking amazing, and it’s not even about the location, although you can’t beat it, it’s always been, for me, about the people.
One of my favorite quotes about New York comes from a guy who was born in Illinois, Bill Murray. He said, “My favorite thing about New York is the people because I think they’re misunderstood. I don’t think people realize how kind New York people are.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a Coronavirus briefing, “We’re going to get through it because we are New York and because we’ve dealt with a lot of things, and because we are smart. You have to be smart to make it in New York. And we are resourceful, and we are showing how resourceful we are, and because we are united, and when you are united, there is nothing you can’t do. And because we are New York tough. We are tough. You have to be tough. This place makes you tough, but it makes you tough in a good way.”
Morningside heard the #FDNY loud & clear as the 11th Battalion showed their appreciation & support for the Doctors, Nurses & EMS at St Luke's Hospital. 'Monumental Pride' Eng.76/Lad.22/Batt 11, 'Pride of Morningside' Eng.47, 'The Heart of Harlem' Eng.37/Lad.40 'Life begins at 40' pic.twitter.com/kMfkKX6di2
— NYCFireWire (@NYCFireWire) April 2, 2020
I have spent a lot of time during this quarantine talking to friends and colleagues, laughing, and crying at every video I see. Just last night, I spent an hour crying watching the video of the FDNY lining the street outside Mount Sinai West applauding our medical professionals. I also spend another hour watching it this morning—New York heroes applauding New York heroes. Again two groups of first responders who were there for us during September 11th and are there for us still, today. I count down the minutes until 7 pm so I can go to my window and hear all my fellow New Yorkers applaud our first responders. Something I hope doesn’t end anytime soon.
A worldwide pandemic, like the one we are currently living in, can bring out the best of humanity. New Yorkers, especially have proven over and over again that we are the strongest when faced with challenges. Each of us fell more in love with our city following September 11th. Our communities came together then and are doing so again with courage and bravery. We are all instinctively operating under one belief that we are all in this together and all part of something so much bigger than ourselves.
That has always been what drives New Yorkers. We are 1 of 8.6 million. Is New York perfect? No. If it were, it
wouldn’t be New York. Is New York changing? Yes. If it weren’t, it
wouldn’t be New York. No matter how imperfect and how much it changes, New York is a place filled with the best people, from every walk of life, from every country in the world, and every state in the United States, of every race, color, religion, and sexual orientation.
I remember going to one of the first Yankees vs. Mets inter-league games at Yankee Stadium. Yankees fans heckling Mets fans, and Mets fans heckling us back. It was awesome. Then came a moment where someone from out of town started trashing “New York,” and those Yankees fans joined Mets fans and started heckling the anti-New Yorker. It was a moment, and there have been so many more since then that I realized despite all of our difference, there is something that unites us all: New York.
I’ve not been shocked by New Yorkers coming together during the coronavirus pandemic. I expected it. I really did. I’ve always expected New Yorkers to step up, because they always have. And I expect to see so much more of us coming together. I expect us to come together after all of this, to rebuild our city. And sure, New York often lets me down, but when I need New York the most, like this past month, the people, my fellow New Yorkers, have never let me down.
I genuinely thank you all.
All tattoos are by Paolino Caraffa at Rising Dragon in, you guessed it, NYC.