How to Be a New Yorker

Terribly useful rules for life

But the multiplicity of ways in which you can exist as a New Yorker is sort of the whole point. Glaser says: "I almost believe there is no New York; there is only a set of projections, and it can be anything you want. It has the worst people, it has the best; it's the worst, it's the best. It is the acceptance of the contradictions and illusions. In any relationship, you can alternately love and hate somebody every day. New York is so mutable and surprising. Even if you don't love it, it is always compelling, always interesting, and never boring. I do love New York."

Being a New Yorker is something we're all in together. At the same time, we refuse to believe we are anything but unique and uniquely driven, despite 8 million competitors fighting for a foothold of their own. This singularity amid a teeming community that's constantly swarming closer (as much as we try to ignore it) is certainly part of what makes us New Yorkers. But there's more. There's always more. It's New York.

It has been 13 years since I spent the night on the floor of that walk-up on 64th Street and slept on a pile of T-shirts. There have been six apartments, several more roommates, countless jobs (and a few careers), and countless boyfriends since; countless new experiences, or experiences made new by looking at them again in a different way as I myself have changed. A year's "sabbatical" in Boston during which I counted the days till my return in lines marked on a calendar only made me love the city more. New York has always been there, reliable yet ever-changing, ever New York.

Les and Joan Rich on their wedding day, in 1961. “She was the most beautiful girl,” wrote Les.
Courtesy Steve Rich
Les and Joan Rich on their wedding day, in 1961. “She was the most beautiful girl,” wrote Les.
Les Rich mugging for the camera with Joan in the early 1960s.
Courtesy Steve Rich
Les Rich mugging for the camera with Joan in the early 1960s.

In October, I moved again, into a tiny Brooklyn apartment with a 30-year mortgage. I am here for the duration; this is the place I call home. Am I a New Yorker?

I don't want to be anything else.

jdoll@villagevoice.com

@thisisjendoll

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