And Thy Adoption Tried

After dinner, they moved into the living room and Sofia felt herself relaxing in a way that she had never experienced as an adult. There was a kind of safety here that she found as exotic as dogwood and as beautiful. She felt that she was wholly welcome, that people in this home were prepared to like her, no matter who she was or what she’d done.

—The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell

Dear New Yorkers,

I get it now.



So I’d never been to New York, because I usually don’t travel all that much without a reason and I live in a city, I don’t go to other American cities for recreation, I go to beaches or other countries. I didn’t have any kind of Chicagoan hostility toward the place or anything, just never had a reason to make the time.

Somewhere around midnight on Saturday, walking back toFabulous New York Jennifer’s place in the East Village at 2 a.m. passing just about everybody in the whole world on the street, still up, my brain still good and buzzing from dinner conversation with 20crack den hanger-outers at once, I had the same awakening about it that I had about San Francisco when I first saw it: Okay, I get why you’d do what you had to to do stay here because Jesus god, it’s amazing. Exhausting, don’t get me wrong, I left feeling like I’d been run over by a truck just from walking around, but amazing in that lifted-up, carried-along way crowds have, and all the time and every day.

Which is to say a weekend spent in the company ofNtodd andThers and family and Res Ipsa andWatertiger and Brooklyn Girl andSpork Incident andUncle Smokes and Feral Liberal andthis ferret fancier and Bunker and Quilt Lady and a zillion other people and a totally random puppy on the street was like an education in why blogging is valuable and good and works for so many people.

Works not just in a political sense, though we all had stories and opinions and argued in good ways. But works in a sense that here’s a bunch of people from all over the country who’ve come together because they see the world in a similar way. I am never not impressed by their passion to make their country a better place, and I don’t know what patriotism is if not the name we give the poetry that describes such intentions. Everybody comes from someplace different but everybody, it seemed to me looking around the dinner table, everybody was living deeply and singing loudly with the voices they had. Sometimes literally. I blame the wine.

This medium’s opened us up to each other’s voices in a way I don’t think happens very often. You might admire a writer or speaker but they’re insulated, you might write somebody a fan letter but there’s no guarantee they’d ever answer. We were talking on Sunday, sitting on a blanket in Central Park on what had to be the most beautiful day in the historical record, and really our only common denominator was that everybody dove right in and engaged on the basis of what we had to say, regardless of resum or pedigree. That’s really pretty rare, places like that, where that happens. The crack den, and this blog by extension, and those of the fine people above, are a few.

I heart NY.


12 thoughts on “And Thy Adoption Tried

  1. I love New York, also. And being from East Texas, I must say that I feel like I have more in common, at least politically, with New Yorkers than I do my own kinfolk. Thank Dog for the internets so I can listen in!

  2. Gosh I wish I could have gone. Instead I got to go to the midwest for a family event where the people there were pretty oblivious of the way that their represenatives had just voted to become a country that tortured. And the thing is, they had no clue why I was so upset.
    At least the people at your event would have KNOWN why I was so sad on a supposely happy occasion.
    Oh well. Next year in Chicago!

  3. Yep, next year we descend on your town (and, of course, show up at your door saying, “We’re here! Feed us!” 😉
    And that puppy was the cutest damned thing!

  4. A.
    As Miss Molly would say, ‘Good on you’! I’m a NY native and I’m afraid that my travels have been pretty much confined to the East coast. So, provincial that I am, nevertheless, NYC IS the most exciting place in the known universe. That said, I just picked up a five-cd set of Studs Terkel radio interviews and I can’t wait to listen to them.

  5. There is a feeling in some cities…NYC, Paris, San Francisco…the people are friendly and helpful…no matter what all the people say who have NEVER been to any of those cities. On the other hand, go to Dallas or Houston or LA, and you will not get those warm feelings. Of course, those last are not walking cities, so maybe that has a lot to do with it…far more close contacts and chances for contacts in the walking/subway places…people there GOT to get along, ya know?
    I spent a week in NYC just a week ago…can’t tell you how great it was to get back there. One day I wore my Bartcop “Worst President Ever” shirt…all day long, strangers everywhere I went told me they loved my shirt. I had the best conversations with those strangers…it was a wonderful day.
    I’m in South Texas…I know if I had worn that shirt in SA or in Houston or any city other than Austin I would have gotten jeers instead of those warm welcomes.

  6. NY hearts you, too, Athenae! It was great to hang with you. And I’m always really happy when someone comes to NY for the first time and “gets it.” There’s an energy here that is palpable. And we grow some damn fine puppies, too.
    You’re also right about blogging … a truly brave new world, in the best possible sense. The entire weekend wouldn’t have happened without it. And these days, with everything being so fucked up, to be able to meet and spend quality time with smart, funny people is more precious than ever.
    Come back any time!

  7. Paris does that too. San Francisco, New York, Paris; maybe Hong Kong.
    Los Angeles, Houston, Tokyo: same level, opposite polarity.

  8. I’m not a big fan of LA. It’s too much of a car city for me.

  9. Welcome back A
    After the decade I spent in New York (the 90s), when we had decided to leave, for lots of reasons, it was like breaking up with a lover. A passionate relationship that isn’t good for you, but the sex is so great and that person’s energy does something amazing to your energy that you’ll never find anywhere else. I’ll always love it. I think about it, and the people I left behind there, every day.

  10. I loved that UNE and Uncle Smokes had the same reaction to NYC. From the moment they arrived they felt like they were home. NYC is great like that. If you are in a NYC frame of mind. Some people will never get it.
    Loved visiting with ya.
    ql in ny

  11. i loved manhattan when i visited my uncle there. i basically was on my own during the day the first visit in 98′. the people were great, and the street vender i got earrings from knew 4 things about milwaukee. wow four and one was that we had the largest 4 sided clock tower-allen bradley clock. and boy, everybody was worried by my going barefoot. even in the subways.
    i love to visit. but i don’t think i could live there. i need something more middling.
    oh, and i must say that when i visited one art museum and came out to pouring rain and had to wait for the bus(no head covering) somebody gave me a kleenex to wipe my face. SO, NYers rock.
    and and and i wasn’t flashed. but then nobody DARES to flash pansypoo. i don’t know why. and why do they always ask me for directions?

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