Vp Issue 2: “A New York Love Letter”

[Originally published in Vp issue 2 by Rachel Kramer Bussel (2002)]

[Originally published in Vp issue 2 by Rachel Kramer Bussel (2002)]

When I thin about September 11, I still can’t seem to come to any conclusion except that it’s made me lvoe my city more and more fiercely than ever before. I will be walking and cliched and cheesy as this may sound, I just think, “I love New York.” And I do.

Recently, I was sitting outside at the World Financial Center, listening to Dar Williams, along with dozens of dykes and hippie moms and their kids, as businessmen and cyclists and boats passed us by. It was a perfect day—free music, beautiful weather, a peaceful crowd, the water calmly drifting along next to us. As the sun set beautifully on the water, I realized there is nowhere else I would rather live.

When I moved here six years ago, it was to go to graduate school. I figured I’d stay for the required three years, maybe a little longer, and then move onto somewhere smaller, quieter—maybe Boston. But this city seduced and entranced me, and I soon found my studies falling by the wayside in favor of late nights out seeing bands, going to dyke bars, or any of the million offerings New York spread otu before me like alluring, never-ending treats.

That’s the thing about New York: There is always something going on. And not just one thing, but many things. My biggest complaint is that I am often torn, as on a recent night when I had to do a reading, passing up a panel of gossip columnists, a queer writers’ collective session, a meeting of my ladies’ salon (where I get to chat and eat and gossip with some of the coolest artistic women around). Yet, tough as that decision was, I welcomed it. I love to hate those choices, where my worlds collide and I have to decide whether to go see my favorite rockabilly band around the corner from my apartment in Williamsburg or attend the fundraiser to help finance a lawsuit against John Ashcroft. All of my many interests—in books, music, sex, feminism, queerness, drinking, makeup, and so on—can be indulged at any time, with plenty of other folks who share those same interests.

While I’ve found so many fabulous communities here, I’ve also found New York to be a wonderufl place to explore by myself. I love nothing more thn having a free afternoon to stroll all over, to get my mail in SoHo and then walk to the Lower East Side, visiting my trifecta of favorite stores—Bluestockings, Sound and Fury, and Toys in Babeland. Then I walk up and around and around the Village, maybe over to Washington Square Park, perhaps stop for a movie or a hot dog. I lvoe that you never know, good or bad, whom you’re going to meet on our streets. I love that my block is filled with people from all kinds of places, from my Spanish-speaking neighbors who fill our apartment’s hallways with the smell of ajo at every meal, to the Indian and Middle Eastern deli owners, to the Italian tough guys who line my streets. I love that we have not just one but several full-time dyke bars catering to every segment of the women-loving-women community. I lvoe that I can pay $2 or $12 for a drink, depending on where I go. There is nothing that I don’t have access to here. Airports are only minutes away from me, ready to take me to far off cities. Nonetheless, my favorite part of any trip is always coming home.

So when I pass by the big, gaping hole in the ground where the World Trade Center used to be, ye, I think of planes crashing into buildings, people falling from teh sky, the horror and panic and disbelief of that day, but I also think of the feeling on the train coming home from work early that day, the way the differences amongst us almost seemed to slip away in our collective need for community, connection—family, if you will. The practiced disdain and aloofness so many of us carry around was gone as we stood outside in the blazing hot sun in mid-town, or struggled to get away from the dust and ash, or sat in front of our televisions and cried. The people here have always been the heart of the Big Apple for me, and despite years of propaganda to the contrary, we are not mean or evil or completely wrapped up in ourselves. I know I bought into that stereotype to some extent; it took me a while to not be overly charmed by every kind act of a stranger. Now I try to stop when I see people obviously lost, to go out of my way to not feed into that negativity that only furthers itself.

Last September, I wrote these lines as part of a response to that dreadful day for the now-defunct New York metropolis, and re-reading them, I realize how true they still are: “One of the only things that has kept me going in these sleepless nights and disoriented days is the huge sense of caring and community surrounding me. The outpouring of support and concern, for me personally, and for New York and the country, has been tremendous and desperately needed. Those who’ve asked me if I want to move don’t comprehend the beauty or resilience that characterize this city.”


Velvetpark Magazine, Issue 2 (September/October 2002), 7.