by Bethany Maines
Next week I will be making, what is turning out to be an annual pilgrimage to New York City to visit my editor and watch a friend graduate from Columbia (Goooo… Lions?). When I started this whole writing thing I specifically targeted LA agents because I thought it would be a heck of a lot easier to fly from the Evergreen State to the Golden State. I was absolutely correct, of course – travel out to the Empire State (that’s your nickname New York, seriously?) kind of bites, particularly since some dude invented the shoe bomb. Or the Underwear Bomb. Next thing you know there’ll be the Hair Bomber and we’ll all have to shave. And I swear the 3oz liquid debacle is fully sponsored by the water vendors on the other side of security, but that is beside the point.
The point is that I didn’t want an agent in New York, but Fate, as per its usual modus operandi, had other plans and now mocks me with every trip to the East Coast. Which isn’t to say I don’t heart my agent with big googly eyes (little hearts going pwap! over my head), and I’m not extremely grateful to be able to visit NYC, because I am. I just keep thinking that maybe this year my vacation will be someplace more palm tree oriented than the Big Apple. I miss palm tree vacations – they come with coconuts and beaches and sometimes giant turtles (See the picture? That turtle swam right by me!).
But there are benefits to visiting a place repeatedly. For one thing, you know when it’s being faked on television. OK, maybe that’s not the primary benefit, but it is a good one (Don’t think I don’t remember you Ally McBeal and all your fake Boston sets). Traveling is always a window onto another place and by visiting it repeatedly you start to really understand the cultural ecosystem of that town and how far that ecosystem spreads.
It wasn’t until my second visit to New York that I understood just how very New York Sesame Street was. From Oscar’s crappy garbage can, to the street sign, to the Brown Stone houses, the main street in every toddlers life is a New York street. Or the bizarre rubber boot fetish that currently holds sway in fashion. The that makes a lot more sense when you realize that even in the summer, New York City is home to a billion disgusting, fetid puddles waiting to envelop sandal clad feet. Each visit reveals some further facet of how New York is different, but also how it’s connected to me. And while it may not have a lot of palm trees, the mai tais still taste good, and as Fast Times at Ridgemont High pointed out – “Wherever you are, that’s the place to be.”