Adam Gopnik’s truths about New York:
We can’t make any life in New York without composing a private map of it in our minds.
An actual map of New York recalls our inner map of the city.
Simultaneously [New York is] a map to be learned and a place to aspire to.
A city of things and a city of signs, the place I actually am and the place I would like to be even when I am here.
Even when we are established here, New York somehow still seems a place we aspire to.
We go on being inspired even when we’re most exasperated.
If the energy of New York is the energy of aspiration, the spirit of New York is really the spirit of accommodation.
And yet both shape the city’s maps, for what aspirations and accommodations share is the quality of becoming, of not being fixed in place of being in every way unfinished.
In New York, the space between what you want and what you’ve got creates a civic itchiness.
I don’t know a single content New Yorker.
To make a home in New York, we first have to find a place on the map of the city to make it in.
The map alone teaches us lessons about the kind of home you can make.
[Excerpted and abbreviated from Through the Children’s Gate]
Each summer, she visited New York. “What’s your diary like?” preceded overlapping calendars to find where we might place the visit. And each summer, I drew a map for my guest. Shopping places, seeing places, eating places, finding places, sitting places, secret places. The neighborhood diagrams charted my moves through the city — East Village, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens — and were as unknowable as they were temporary. Each summer, places dissipated into places they used to be. Drawn maps, a history of a moment. The ritual of the map became the truth that persisted.