10/6/2013 You have something like three more hours in the city of the ancients. You think you finally got kissing on the both cheeks down. Instead of just making the pecking sound and following through with the motions, you've now kissed the cheeks of strangers like you've been doing it since age nine. In the city of strangers you study lovers. You study the way they hold their hands, the way their arms loosely cling to each other, the way they walk together in stride. They, like you, are mostly strangers to the city. All have flown hours from other worlds, and their stories are caught in a moment here. You wade through the American tourists with their mid-western drawl, a drawl that is rounded by a touch of the jovial that is so familiar to you.
Sometimes you talk down on the mid-west like it's a blip in the narrative of your life, a mistake almost of how you ended up there, and the conclusion that your heart belongs to New York, but it's like David Bryne says, "Like a lot of people, I grew to disdain the suburbs, their artificialness and sterility. But I could never shake them entirely. There was some kind of weird fascination and attraction that I can't quite get out of my system." For the girl who always lived on the edge of suburbia, who was enthralled by even the idea of a house, who's never lived in a house, there are hard memories from suburbia encased in ember.
Still I think of those streets that I've passed by so many times to and fro from school. The tree-lined, house-lined streets, the square plazas that look identical to any other mid-sized American town, the Pizza Hut by the corner, the dilapidated buildings in the city center, the ghost mansion, the cemetery. That was my world for eight years. The idylls that I will never again return to--my world, all of my world.
How different would I have been if I'd lived in New York like him? Would I be one of those tough, savvy New Yorkers so hard at the core? Would I be precocious to the point of tragedy, bags under my eyes and a heavy soul? Would I be smarter, snappier, sharper? Would I have roamed the clubs by age fifteen and been friends with all the skateboarder boys and the DJs? Would I have been the weird Chinese girl? Or would I have still been the nerd, the bedroom fangirl clicking her way into niche fandoms that stole me away from anything and everything that had to do with Ohio? Do I reject that identity even as it grips me?
In Florence those days seem faraway and trivial. Somehow those days made you hard, harder than any New Yorker could be, because you remember that exact moment when you swore that this was the lowest you can be and that you are better than this, you will get out and you will live. You will get out and you will one day have the view of the promenade from the fucking bedroom. You will live. You will earn New York the proper way, not by inheritance, but by fighting. You went there every spring break, winter break, summer break, conference break, every chance you got. You got kissed by strangers and got internships and went to parties in basements and listened to sigur ros in basements paralyzed and talked about poetry on fire escapes and wrote stories and ate tacos and acted really jaded and pretentious and met real, hard New Yorkers that you love, you just love.
You love the city, and your story will never end with it.
This is what you think of in Florence instead of stuffing your face in gelato. You make a mental note of how you have to fight back to New York one day, to earn it again like the way Dominique had to fight back to Roark.