On Anonymity & Accessibility
New York: a city of people surrounded by everything from Gehry skyscrapers to Nouvel picture frame windows, Bergdorf vitrines to Tribeca cobblestones. A city that lets you stroll aboveground on The High Line or ride below ground on the F line. The only city I know where you can walk right to the center and get lost in the biggest, greenest amusement park for miles. A glorious city—so majestic you feel like a tiny spec of special dust, even on a bad day (New York can be good for your ego like that).
But should you find yourself here, you don’t "geek out." You don’t obsess. You just embrace, aloofly.
It’s okay to look up, as long as you pretend to be scoffing at tourists or pigeons, but it’s not okay to look at. Say, for example, Alec Baldwin. Or Robert De Niro. Maybe Lindsay Lohan, but why stare at LiLo?
Because the beauty of New York is, in part, seclusion—anonymity en masse.
Of course, that’s not a new idea. In 1964, Jackie O. moved to the Upper East Side because she knew she could be left alone there, to live as she pleased. In 2012, Madonna moved four blocks south of Jackie’s old haunt for similar reasons, plus a rooftop ripe for renovation.
Jay-Z, Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, Tyra Banks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Sarah Jessica Parker and a slew of other Hollywood, athletic or political figures have similar stories. Move to The Big Apple Farm, harvesting 8.2 million people, and you can be just another little core covered in red, green and yellow, flittering and Twitter-ing as you please.
In New York, there’s a luxury in anonymity and a torment in accessibility. The empowered and equipped take black cars, rent private dining rooms, have assistants deliver coffee. The rest of us wait in line for tables, taxis and lattes.
But the beauty of New York is this, too—New Yorkers, out and about. In your way, squatting on your stoop, but never there when you need them. Like cops, or street vendors with change for a $20.
Stories. Faces. Knock-offs. Slices. Ventis. Purebreds. Mutts.
It’s a city for those who moved here yesterday, or ten years ago. Those who stayed after college. Those who followed their dreams across America or across oceans. Born and breds, or those who choose to nurture an inclination to be present, overwhelmed and constantly on the hunt for more.