Dorothy Parker on New York: Autumn is the Springtime of big cities

From her essay, published in McCall’s in January 1928, entitled “My Home Town”:

It occurs to me that there are other towns. It occurs to me so violently that I say, at intervals, “Very well, if New York is going to be like this, I’m going to live somewhere else.” And I do — that’s the funny part of it. But then one day there comes to me the sharp picture of New York at its best, on a shiny blue-and-white Autumn day with its buildings cut diagonally in halves of light and shadow, with its straight neat avenues colored with quick throngs, like confetti in a breeze. Some one, and I wish it had been I, has said that “Autumn is the Springtime of big cities.” I see New York at holiday time, always in the late afternoon, under a Maxfield Parish sky, with the crowds even more quick and nervous but even more good-natured, the dark groups splashed with the white of Christmas packages, the lighted holly-strung shops urging them in to buy more and more. I see it on a Spring morning, with the clothes of the women as soft and as hopeful as the pretty new leaves on a few, brave trees. I see it at night, with the low skies red with the black-flung lights of Broadway, those lights of which Chesterton — or they told me it was Chesterton — said, “What a marvelous sight for those who cannot read!” I see it in the rain, I smell the enchanting odor of wet asphalt, with the empty streets black and shining as ripe olives. I see it — by this time, I become maudlin with nostalgia — even with its gray mounds of crusted snow, its little Appalachians of ice along the pavements. So I go back. And it is always better than I thought it would be.

I suppose that is the thing about New York. It is always a little more than you had hoped for. Each day, there, is so definitely a new day. “Now we’ll start over,” it seems to say every morning, “and come on, let’s hurry like anything.”

London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it. There is excitement ever running its streets. Each day, as you go out, you feel the little nervous quiver that is yours when you sit in the theater just before the curtain rises. Other places may give you a sweet and soothing sense of level; but in New York there is always the feeling of “Something’s going to happen.” It isn’t peace. But, you know, you do get used to peace, and so quickly. And you never get used to New York.

 

Fun freebie!

I wasn’t sure if this was going to work, but today my free custom luggage tags from KLM arrived!

You can upload your own photo, or choose one of theirs. I used a pic of me outside the wall of Visby, one of my new favorite destinations. The tags are pretty good quality, and have your info printed on the reverse.

In other news, it pays to be nice. I took myself out to linner at Macaroni Grill (an end of semester tradition since my halcyon, impecunious undergrad days), and my rather inept but nice waitress forgot about me. It was no big deal, and I tried to calm her down about it, and when I left she gave me not only a free dessert (which I was half expecting) but a loaf of bread to go with the leftovers of my entree! I’ve previously attempted to take home the bread from the table, only to have them take it out of my doggie bag, so this was an especially sweet surprise. Not as sweet as a big’ol’ piece of free tiramisu though, amirite?