Having spent my twenties in New York City it perhaps ruined me for anywhere else. I do know that no matter where I live, my heart belongs to that city. And it was no coincidence that I chose to set my novel, Marika’s Best Laid Plan, right smack in Manhattan.
E.B. White, writing in 1949, said that there are three New Yorkers: Those born New Yorkers who take it for granted; the commuter who prefers suburbia with its spacious comforts and lawns; and those who come on a quest, the ones responsible for the city’s excitement and passion. I consider myself in the third group. I landed in New York straight from my small-town undergrad school to attend New York University in the heart of Greenwich Village. I’ll never forget my excitement at being at the hub of what had been a bohemian revival. To walk in the footsteps of Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, and yes, “Lucky” Luciano. Where the Stonewall Riots happened. I felt like I was at the center of the universe. Late nights at Café Regio in the Village, Broadway shows on student discount ‘standing room only’, trying to sneak into discos past the face-control squad. Heady days.
Friends from small towns often say that New York is a great place to visit but they’d never want to live there. They don’t realize that New York is just a conglomerate of tiny villages, each as self-contained as any village. Chelsea, Murray Hill, Gramercy Park, East Village, West Village, SoHo. Within each village you’ll find your grocery stores, dry cleaners, deli, restaurants, movie theaters, drug stores. You never have to venture outside your village, and many New Yorkers seldom do. You never have to drive anywhere. You walk. How great is that?
Yes, I am aware that I’m being nostalgic, and that the city has many problems. With all it has been through, from 9/11 to Covid, it’s a miracle that it has survived at all. By rights it should not have. Yet New Yorkers seem to be able to extricate themselves from difficult situations and keep on keeping on. It’s a good thing that New Yorkers are temperamentally unconcerned with comfort, or they wouldn’t choose to live there.
New York can be a lonely place, as my protagonist, Marika finds it to be. It can destroy a person or uplift him to the greatest heights. This city with its concentration of strangers seeking sanctuary can be the place where the stranger can sometimes feel a sense of being on a joint venture to something unique. To find fulfillment in that journey. Like in the song, I wanted my Marika to make it New York City. I knew that if she could make it there, she’d make it anywhere.
Click here to purchase a copy of my book Marika’s Best Laid Plan: