Today I’m back for another interview. Thanks, Tracy, for agreeing to do these Q & A sessions. As you know, I find New York to be fascinating, as well as the people living in it. So, let’s chat again. Me, in my house in Nova Scotia. You, in your apartment on the Upper West Side.
Steph: I was browsing through my book, My New York, this morning. Cathleen Schine, a best-selling New York author talks about which color her New York is. It is green, because she spends a lot of time in Central Park walking her dogs, and she just loves the park. What color do you see your New York being ?
Tracy: The city’s color changes for me. I see New York on a gray scale, and depending on the day, NYC could be black and white. I think the city –– streets, buildings, etc (not the parks, obviously) are more neutral, and the diversity of the city’s people add color. When I go to Central Park or any NYC green space in spring, summer or fall, I see the city in whatever the park’s colors happen to be during that season.
|Tracy sees the city as black and white, and the people give it color.|
Steph: I absolutely love the Dakota building. It’s both beautiful and creepy to me. When I see it I always wonder what Yoko Ono is doing up there in all that space. I would love to go inside her apartment. If you could take a tour through a famous NYC apartment, where would you go ?
Tracy: I adore the Dorilton at 71st and Broadway. I’d love to get into that building. Also, I wouldn’t mind getting into Nora Ephron’s old apartment at the Apthorp. I love the way she describes the building in her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck. Honestly, reading about her love of the Apthorp has made me crazy curious about it! Here’s just a sampling of my favorite quotes from the book:
“I was looking for a place to live, and one afternoon I walked just ten steps into an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and my heart stood still. Head over heels. This was it. Eureka.”
“The rent was fifteen hundred dollars per month –– which was, by Manhattan standards practically a bargain…. In addition, I had to pay the previous tenant twenty-four thousand dollars in key money (as it’s known in New York City) for the right to move in…..But never mind the money. This, after all, is not a story about money. It’s a story about love.”
“I had never planned to live on the Upper West Side, but after a few weeks, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, and I began, in my manner, to make a religion out of my neighborhood…..But my true religious zeal focused on the Apthorp itself. I honestly believed that in the lowest point of my adult life, I’d been rescued by a building.”
I bet you want to get inside the Apthorp now, don’t you? And live on the Upper West Side!
|The entrance to the famous Apthorp courtyard. Tracy’s never stepped inside.|
Steph: I hear of New Yorkers talking about their neighborhoods. The Village, Midtown, Chelsea etc. Do you feel the Upper West Side has a certain feel or vibe to it? How would you describe your neighborhood?
Tracy: I have to agree with Nora Ephron. It’s pretty easy to fall in love with the Upper West Side. The vibe is chill for New York. In fact, parts can be pin-drop quiet. I think the neighborhood –– like most in NYC –– feels like a small city. Lots of families and dogs always walking the streets, and of course, with Riverside Park on the western border and Central Park on the eastern border, the UWS is especially green.
With gorgeous brownstones lining the side streets, and architectural treasures like the Dorilton and Apthorp, it’s incredibly charming. And beautiful. And liberal –– known as a home to artists, actors, singers, dancers (hello, Lincoln Center and Broadway) writers, professors (Columbia is a few minutes north) etc, the Upper West is welcoming, tolerant, convenient, and easy to live in. Although it’s not cool or hip like parts of Brooklyn or the Village, and at times, it can be pretty boring for NYC, with all the UWS symbolizes and offers, I’m proud to live here.
Admittedly, I do dream of living downtown at times, but I think I’d be satisfied if I lived the rest of my life on the Upper West. I mean, I think I’d be satisfied if I lived the rest of my life anywhere in New York City.
|The Upper West Side –– Tracy is proud to live here.|
Steph: One time I was at a dive bar eating lunch, close to the Brooklyn Bridge. Jeremy’s Ale House. This big man walks in wearing a nice suit and a fedora. And I just knew that it was Jeremy. Naturally, I wanted to meet him, so I walked over and we talked for a bit. I told him my love for the city and how I would love to live here. He looked at me and said ( in his New York accent, which made him even cooler!), “You don’t wanna live in this city. The people are very unforgiving here. And they can be hard. You don’t wanna live in this city.”
So, I thought, does he even like this city? Or does he think I can’t handle it here? It was not something I wanted to hear, but he was very interesting to talk with. What do you think he could have been talking about ?
Tracy: I’m not sure what he was trying to say. Perhaps he had something personal going on. Or, maybe he’s been in New York too long. I think Jeremy’s Ale House has been around for about 40 years.
New York can be tough. It’s not all scenes out of a romcom. Some days, even if you love New York, you say, “Why am I here?” But then the sun comes out the following morning and all is right again.
I don’t know about people being unforgiving. I haven’t had that experience. New Yorkers can be too busy, and we’re all guilty of throwing ourselves into our work and letting relationships suffer. It’s a big city and it takes a lot of energy to live here and to keep up, especially for a long time, and it can take a lot of that energy to connect with that friend who lives an hour away, deep in Brooklyn or wherever.
Maybe he’s tired, or maybe he needs a vacation. Everyone in NYC needs to escape somewhere now and then! Or, maybe he thought you seemed too quiet, reserved, or innocent to like living here. But I’d say he was wrong. I know you. And I think you’d love living in New York. One thing he forgot to mention is that the city is very accepting. Anyone who wants to be here, the city will welcome with open arms.
|The city welcomes new people every single day.|
Steph: Sometimes I ask myself this question. Why do I love new York and feel the need to get back there? I cannot pinpoint a few reasons really so then I say to myself, does it really matter why? I just do. Can you explain why you love new York so much?
Tracy: Oh no! You’ve been bitten by the NYC love bug. That’s fantastic and a bummer at the same time. You’ll never be the same….! I think most people who come to the city and “get it” feel the same way as you. I like to compare New York to a really good drug. Once you get a taste, you’re addicted, and you’ve got to get another fix.
New York is a familiar place to me. Since I started coming as a child, I have a lot of memories, so it’s hard not to love what’s familiar. You know, like that cozy sweater you just can’t part with no matter how long you’ve had it, or those shoes you keep wearing because they are the most comfortable in your closet. Manhattan has always felt that way to me, because it’s part of who I am.
|It’s easy to get bitten by the NYC love bug. One trip is all it takes.|
Why did I love New York at the age of 12? I wish I knew. I think the city is one of those few places in the world that either captures your heart immediately or leaves a bad taste in your mouth. NYC had me the moment I landed here, and I knew the city was unlike any other place and I wanted a piece of it. That’s not to say I haven’t experienced heartache or tough times. Like everyone, I have.
Perhaps I love all the city offers. The magical things that happen here. Or the opportunities. The energy. The people. Knowing that I’m merely a speck in a city that’s labeled the center of the universe, the greatest city in the world –– that’s incredibly exciting.
But I think it’s also the struggle. People who love the city appreciate a challenge. You have to fight to get to New York. It’s not easy. You have to fight to stay here too. Why do I and so many others fight? I guess because we think it’s worth it. Because it’s true –– when you truly love something, it’s worth putting up with the aggravation and the ups and downs. No love is perfect. But when you love New York City, really love this city with your whole heart and soul, I promise she will love you back. And I’m not sure you can say that about most cities in the world, but I know it’s true here.
|Love New York? The city will love you back.|
It’s always fun talking with you. I just wanted to say that Tracy’s New York Life is like an escape for me, seeing where I live in such a small town. I enjoy sitting at my computer with my coffee, reading and daydreaming of life in your amazing city. Thanks for sharing your stories!
Have a question for Tracy? Send an email to hello at tracysnewyorklife dot com.