A friend and I were recently speculating on the pros and cons of living in various downtown Manhattan neighbourhoods. I said I wouldn’t like living in the East Village because of all the students—they can be loud, are most likely transient, and might not treat the surroundings like a home or community. She said that she would like living in the East Village because of all the students—they represent possibility.
What is that? It’s been so long since I’ve felt that emotion in the truest sense. I’m too much of a pragmatist/realist/pessimist to see that my future is full of possibility because I see singular tracks of this job, this apartment lease, this salary, this amount of vacation time, and so on. The last time I think I felt that there could be another track or trajectory open to me was five years ago exactly. And I can pinpoint it to a night I was in… the East Village.
I was at the end of a whirlwind two-day trip to the city for a round of interviews. Red-eye in, nearly red-eye out, and multiple hours in between meeting people in the most professional clothes and with the most appropriate hair I could manage. Those hours represented the last hurdle I had to overcome on my own to make living in New York a reality. What would come after would be financial considerations, human resource requirements, and US immigration bureaucracy. All things I had little control over. Those interviews would be down to me. And by the end of the second day, I felt pretty good. I felt that I could let myself
dream about plan on the possibility of living in this city. After changing into Regular Rhianna clothes and checking out of the hotel, I made my way downtown to have pizza at Motorino for the first time before heading to the airport. It was a moment of optimism and lightness. I had no idea what, if anything, would come next, but I remembered that there was more than one track for me. It felt good. It felt like being a student. The future wasn’t defined, but it felt full, and it was waiting for me.
There are other pizzas I would choose before those of Motorino. But every time I visit, whether to the one in East Village, the one in Williamsburg, or the newest one on the Upper West Side, I never regret it and always end up more satisfied than expected. The crust has the right Neaopolitan chew, the mozzarella is creamy, and the combinations of toppings always make it hard for me to make a decision. At this meal, I finally tried a clam pizza. With nothing to compare it to, I thought it was very good. As a white pie, it’s mild without the zing of tomato sauce, but a squirt of lemon brightens it up and the oreganata butter adds some depth. It definitely has me wanting to explore other renditions of clam pie. (Trip to New Haven, anyone?)
With what happened politically this week, my nature has me in a rut of uncertainty, the death knell to possibility. I know that will subside and that collective uncertainty will help shape solidarity, calm, action. In the meantime, I’m trying to remember that first meal at Motorino. Pizza by candlelight. Red wine to take the interview edge off the day. Rolling my carry-on suitcase down 1st Avenue to catch a cab. Feeling excited about what was to come.