While I was preparing for a Saturday night in, with a gin & tonic and An Affair to Remember – one of the great films with New York as a central character – I found a wonderful gift on the kitchen bench from my housemate, Gemma. A book named New York – photographs by Bernd Obermann (2002) with a post-it note reading, “Hi Mel, saw this and thought of you. Enjoy!”
I’ve only been living with Gemma for a few months, and already my obsession with New York is clear to her, as it is with almost everyone I know. Thank you Gemma for noticing something I’m in love with and for your thoughtful gift.
What makes this book – and city – such a magnificent gift, is what it means to people who have been, and for those who wish to go there. Upon opening the book to peruse the black and white photographs, I was pleasantly surprised to find a handwritten message from a Luke to his friend Eliza.*
When I saw this book in the Guggenheim I immediately thought of you, simply because when I looked at the photos I sensed what this city is, and I know how clearly you want to feel that for yourself.
New York is a place like no other. Like most cities it is what your make it – you can throw yourself into the bohemian ghetto or relax in the false security of Park Avenue – but whichever life you choose to lead, you have to be prepared to let it expose itself to you in all its overwhelming glory and despicable darkness.
Of all things, New York is a place I trust you’ll visit one day if only to say you’ve been, but perhaps you’ll go there one day and understand that of the people you left behind before you boarded Noah’s Ark, there were some you’ll forever entrust your friendship to.
There are 7 million in this city. Funny how, at night, you think of the few you left behind.
Forever your friend, Luke
New York is a place like no other – one of the greatest clichés, but one of the greatest truths in the world. I hope that Eliza got to experience what her friend Luke hoped for her. I have, in my own way of course, and will again.
*Message copied verbatim with exception to amending minor spelling errors.