As many of us do, i think i know a place, when all i know is what surrounds me: a walk through New York takes in my favourite routes, cafes, bars, and vistas. I think i know the city, when what i really know is a tiny fragment of the whole.
The things i know change with every trip: my favourite restaurant has gone, my coffee shop has disappeared, my favourite bookshop evolved. Every trip brings the loss of the familiar, and the discovery of the new: like no other city, New York is restless, in it’s soul.
This is a mosaic city: patchwork product of settlers, each recreating the notion of home. St Marks place has it’s origins in the lines of the old river, and the trees that the Dutch merchants planted, but all now long lost. The city as expression is the product of people, not an innate entity in itself. It’s the aggregated whole of myriad encounters, foibles, and envies. Architecture to show off, building to dominate, streets of dreams.
As the city changes, so too does my understanding of it: we are symbiotic. But i will never know the whole. It’s forever beyond my reach.
I sit in a new favourite cafe, reading Patti Smiths recent poem on a new Jerusalem, and realise that i will never be a true writer, with such an evolved understanding of abstract expression. It’s forever beyond my reach.
I can but wander.