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2006-05-15 - 11:33 a.m.

Itís amazing to me how much there is to say about the contrast of boroughs in New York. How much that matters. Brooklyn versus Manhattan versus Queens versus Staten versus the Bronx, and lets not forget our fair neighbors in Jersey.

A friend was in town this weekend, visiting me and the city, and he found himself realizing he could never live here because the city is so invasive. It never lets you forget where you live. It doesnít like you to be alone to the point of being a pest. You can never feel truly alone here, though your company might not always be to your liking.

So much of that city feeling is being marginalized. Itís hard to be special. To stand out. When you walk along the streets your recognize everyone, because you know someone just like them. Everyone is the same as someone else, and everything that can happen becomes everyday. You canít leave everything behind, even for a moment because everything follows you.

Unless youíve made the requisite millions to be handed the keys to the city, there are always reminders of places you canít get to, floors you canít accessÖthe person youíre not. The boroughs are too hard to get to, too far away, too depressing. Itís still a place youíre relegated to, instead of decide on. A punishment for the unworthy.

The gulf between Brooklyn and Manhattan is widened in the mind. Distance in New York should be multiplied by fifty. People nearly consider it a long distance relationship if you and your partner are separated by more than three subway stops. Couples survive distances that span oceans, for lifetimes, but the average New Yorker canít survive a relationship if their spouse lies across a bridge.

Itís considered an amazing boon to find someone in your hood. And it is, to have them become part of that small little world, where at least someone knows your name, and can pretend, on occasion that you mean something in this gigantic squirming entanglement of gears we call home.

Of course, that makes this so much worse when it ends. When your home becomes uncomfortable. When what you shared with someone turns sour, it sours everything associated with it, and it has more than the capacity to spoil home.

When it ends youíre not special anymore to them, and that one little nook of special you dug out for itself seems to take on the look in their eyes.

As much as we New Yorkerís like to act like the chosen ones, I know this is universal. The corruption of the idea of home. I guess I mean to make the point that for all our open city living, we still want for the small, the warm, the cozy. We, of course, have so many options to get away from those spots spoiled, and cloak yourself in crowds if you have to. If anything it gives me respect for those who donít live in a town that manufactures anonymity. In a world this big, where you are so small, you can dissappear. I'm not sure if you can when your world isn't that gaping.

How can a mile feel this long?

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