New York, New York (2011)
My most vivid memory of New York is flying into the city late at night after our family had moved away. I must have been eight… maybe nine years old, and I remember so clearly flying over and into the city. There was a feeling in my stomach, a combination of excitement, anticipation, comfort, and calm.
It was cold. We flew into Newark, and my parents were tense as we stood outside waiting for a ride. (Newark in the eighties with two kids and too many suitcases will do that to you.)
I wasn’t tense. I felt a surge of confidence, the kind that comes from an overwhelming sense of belonging. I belonged. I stood straighter; I widened my stance; I may have shrugged with the confidence of someone who has been there before. Part of that was affect; I was, after all, only eight or nine. But some of it came from deeper within, making the feeling authentic, even as its display was comical.
That feeling of belonging, of excitement, anticipation, comfort, and calm resurfaces every time I am back in the city. Every. Single. Time.
It’s why I can’t not go back there, even as parts of my life have moved to Ohio. It’s what continually pulls me back to the city, many times a year.
For me, the city provides a lovely sense of community—of togetherness and of intimacy, despite (or perhaps because of) its size.
I keep noticing the word “community” lately. This quarter’s issue of Kinfolk is the Design Issue, and there is a community theme running throughout. In watching worldwide reactions to the terror attacks in Paris, Beirut, and elsewhere, the world’s community responded with support. In preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday, our own familial communities are in full force, preparing to celebrate community with a shared meal and shared traditions.
Communities come in all shapes and sizes, and we build them around our families, our professions, our geographical locations, and our world.
As this week unfolds, and especially as it includes moments of joy and moments of frustration, I hope we’ll all have the opportunity to cultivate and reflect upon the feeling of belonging deep within.