Greta Gerwig: My Mother, My City

There had been youngsters in New York, in fact, however they appeared confined to the playgrounds. “It’s a great place to have a family” is a real factor that’s typically mentioned about Sacramento. To be a child in Sacramento then was to be in the proper place on the proper time. Nearly everybody had a yard; some folks had swimming pools and even their very own private jungle gyms; you can select which youngsters had been invited to slip and swim and swing. My mother didn’t imagine in having your individual play set. She thought it defeated the purpose of a playground, which was to make new buddies and get snug with individuals who weren’t your loved ones. In Sacramento, she would stroll me all the way down to McKinley Park. It was a few miles away, however it had one of the best playground. I used to be strolling that distance together with her by the point I used to be four.

Later, once I informed a boyfriend in regards to the stroll, he didn’t imagine me: “That’s just a story your parents tell you.” He thought it was an exaggeration. But I’m sure of its reality. My mom had raised me to be a walker, to be on the transfer. Two miles to the playground at four years previous was actual. My mother wasn’t my playmate, however she was the one who introduced me out into the world and taught me that it was not scary. In New York, nobody, not even the very rich, had their very own personal paradise; it needed to be shared. City youngsters had been good at taking part in, everybody was a stranger and everybody belonged. She had ready me properly.


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But New York, finally, appeared to be a metropolis of grown-ups. It was the grownup world and I used to be a visitor there. It was at all times previous my bedtime, and all the traditional guidelines had been suspended. Once, my mother and I had been in a cab (possibly we had been late to one thing? My mother would by no means simply “take a cab”) and I informed her that the subsequent day I wished to put on my rock ’n’ roll outfit. It was a pink skirt and high with white guitars throughout them. The cabby overheard and met my eye within the rearview mirror. He winked and mentioned in a thick New York accent, “I’ll wait for you, doll.” Maybe now I’d suppose it was creepy; possibly my mother did suppose it was creepy; however on the time it was thrilling. New York was the place to be a grown-up, and I had to determine how one can get again.

At dwelling in Sacramento, my mother took me to Tower Records to order the double cassette tapes of the unique forged recordings of the musicals I had seen. She discovered me one of the best tap-dancing lecturers on the town to assist my newfound love, and once I additionally expressed curiosity in hula dancing, she discovered the only real Polynesian dance group in Sacramento and signed me up. We had left New York, however she was nonetheless bringing as a lot of it as she may to me, with simply as a lot bravado and hustle as the town itself.

When I lastly made it again to New York to attend Barnard College, I used to be 19 and felt “Ah, yes, now life can really begin,” as if life hadn’t been occurring earlier than. Against specific warnings to not, I climbed to the roof of my dorm to look down on the metropolis beneath. It was my metropolis, or I wished it to be. But I had no concept which manner was uptown and which was downtown. This place I had wished so badly to be a part of was nonetheless a thriller.

So I did the one factor that made sense to me. I obtained on the subway and rode it as distant as I may, intentionally getting misplaced to study it. I spent the subsequent a number of hours looking for my manner again with out a map. Walking the streets and puzzling out how West Fourth Street might be proper subsequent to West 12th, I spotted that I used to be doing alone what my mother had accomplished with me years earlier than. Walking, strolling, strolling, studying the town by foot, each inch. She was the rationale I believed this was the right approach to introduce myself to the town. And the town felt like my mom. New York City felt like dwelling as a result of it felt like her.

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