When I was about to move to New York City eight years ago and was starting to look for apartments, a friend guided me toward you. “Brooklyn’s apparently the place to be,” she said. And how right she was.
Oh Brooklyn, you lovely, bizarre, quirky, idiosyncratic city, I adore you with all my heart. I love your tiny indie bookstores, where lazy cats loll in cracked leather armchairs and the bestsellers everyone’s talking about never make it onto the front tables. I love your hipster babies drooling all over their tiny ironic t-shirts. I love that it’s impossible to walk two blocks in the summer without stumbling over a stoop sale where you can buy sequin cardigans and designer heels for five dollars. I love that even in a place so urban, where 2.5 million people are packed into 71 square miles, it seems like there’s a community garden or a little park lurking around every corner.
I love your obsession with organic, antibiotic-free, locally grown, grass-fed, “house-made” (never homemade) food. It makes your menus sound pretentious and absurd, but let’s be honest, all that stuff is DELICIOUS—especially when eaten for brunch, which no Brooklyn resident could possibly live without. I love that this is the only place outside the Pacific Northwest where you can sign up for a salmon CSA. I am baffled and delighted that people forage for mushrooms—which they actually EAT—in public parks. I love that there’s such a thing as gourmet popsicles and donuts and that both are within walking distance of my apartment. I love that I know exactly where to get both wild boar steaks and hot dogs and that those two shops are on the same block.
I love how the arts aren’t confined to galleries and concert halls but seem to lurk just below the surface of everything. There are three art supply stores within a six-block radius of when I live. Your ugly, warehouse-style buildings that look like crack houses from the outside often turn out to be low-budget theaters. When I go to a totally normal, mainstream movie, I see previews for shows that are being broadcast live from the Globe Theater and operas simulcast from the Met. I even love the grizzled homeless guy who has been singing “Baby, Can I Hold You Tonight” by Tracy Chapman on the F train every single day since I moved here.
Even as I sat in my apartment last Monday night, listening to the hurricane howl through the trees and reading reports of the destruction that was coming ever closer—even knowing that I might lose power any second and that the subways would likely be flooded for a week—there was not one single moment when I thought, “I wish I lived somewhere else.”
Because even when things go horribly, horribly wrong, Brooklyn, you know how to bounce back. New Yorkers are always criticized for being rude and cold to strangers, for living inside their own impenetrable little shells. But when I look around right now, nothing seems further from the truth. Volunteers are swarming community centers and soup kitchens and food drives so fast that there isn’t enough work for everyone to do. Supplies and donations are pouring in. And just thirty-six hours after the hurricane stopped pummeling us, the neighborhoods with power were open for trick-or-treaters, costumes and candy and jack-o-lanterns and all. Nothing keeps you down, Brooklyn.
I never expected to be a New Yorker for this long, but now I’m honestly not sure I can ever leave. Nowhere else has ever felt quite so much like home as you do.
I’m here as long as you want me.