Walking in love in the city we love

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by Vica Miller

I only write odes to love. Rarely. When I’m in love, or when I feel that something is much grander than me – the Sahara, the ocean, the night sky, the feeling of belonging, or being in awe.

Today I’m writing an ode to my city, my second home, NYC. Today is a special day, when we have extinguished the orange evil from our beloved city, from our heartbroken county. Today I’m in awe of the country and in awe of my city. It’s a new, beautiful, day, the start of the rest of our lives.

Today the sun shone especially bright. Today marked the return to normalcy, in things big and small. On a grand scale – it’s a life-changing day. It’s a turn for the good, for the better, for the best. My heart is filled with hope, and love. My mind is on fire, filled with ideas. My smile is huge today, and I hope will remain such for a few more moments, hours, years, decades. The big thing is the new era. But we live in our small moments, so I want to share mine from today.

I ran errands all day long, from morning till late afternoon – while the new President was being sworn in. “My whole soul is in this,” he said. My whole soul is alive, thanks to this huge slice of happiness that was bestowed on us, which we fought for, which we won.

Today, I fell in love all over again with my second hometown, the big effing apple, the tough kid NYC. Oh, how I love you, even when you’re empty of the rushing pedestrians and bustling restaurants. I am still in love with your streets, from Riverside Boulevard, to Lispenard and Wooster. I’m in love with your gutsy, never-dying energy. I’m in love with your people, my fellow New Yorkers, tough motherfuckers who know best, the folks with quick step and deep thought, with big hearts and real smiles.

I’m forever a New Yorker, no matter where I find myself – in my beloved St. Petersburg, Russia, in my darling Dominican Republic, in sizzling Majorca or languid Tuscany.

I love NYC like only a person who came here by herself, with nothing to show for and stuck it out, can love. Who ground the granite of the “hard city”, finished two schools and started the third, who launched a university course that flourished into a graduate program that’s been lighting the fire in the minds of multimedia artists in NYC.

I love it only as a person who made lots of money and then lost everything, and then made it again, can love a financial capital of the world. As a mother who’s been raising two brilliant daughters here, who adopted three dogs and who ran around the Central Park reservoir hundreds of times; who lived in someone else’s quarters as a maid, who stuck it out in a tiny studio, with two dogs and one man; and bought a Russian dacha for her daughters to have a piece of Russia even though they’re born and bread Upper West Siders.

This is a love note to the city that never gives up, never looks back, never considers other options, because there are none. As my cello teacher once said, “We can’t move out of the city. What will we be complaining about then?” – the rats, the garbage on the streets, the crazies on the subway, the insane health insurance and ridiculously expensive private schools. But also the sunsets in Riverside Park, the dog runs and the playgrounds, the cobbled streets of SoHo, the intellectual might, the stupendous mix of cultures and traditions, the “cool stuff”, the cafes and bistros and restaurants, many closed but some thriving – even today; the Philharmonic, the theater, the pools, the music teachers, the parks, the boat rides on the Hudson and the Domino sugar factory rebuilt into a wonder of gardening and contentment.

And the most important thing about NYC – its people. How I adore you, my fellow New Yorkers – straight-talking, fast-thinking, with skin all shades of brown, with smiles all versions of happy and snakry. I am in love with all of you – the always-eating taxi drivers who never fail to impart their amazing stories on me, the doormen in my building, the dog people in the park, the entrepreneurs, the scientists and the artists.

I also want to say “I love you” to MY people, to those who have my back in thick and thin, who hold my hand when I am lonely, and raise a glass with me (even though I don’t drink) when I’m happy.

This is an ode to you:

My dear Natasha, my backbone, my fellow traveler, the sparkle in the rain and in the sunshine, my orange firecracker and keeper of secrets, my everything.

My dear Lizka, the wise and beautiful woman, forever young and steadily mature, my whisperer and confidante, my old friend forever.

My dearest Victoria Vinokur, the sophisticate incarnate, the knower of all that a real New Yorker must know, the fashion queen and the mastermind of real estate wonders; my lunch companion, my Sex and the City pal, my texting queen.

To my darling Fred and Danielle Solomon – the man who is responsible for New York’s brightest smiles and best root canals, and the woman who knows the secrets of the body, and how the soul depends on it, and how to keep both healthy, holistically. My dear Danielle, a fellow mother of two tough girls, smart and beautiful who keep us on our toes, and only when we’re alone together, she and I can share what it is really like, to be a mother in NYC.

To my sweet Sander and Yulia, the shrink to the stars and the powerhouse cardiologist, who both saved many lives, literally and figuratively, mine included.

To my husband of 15 years, my base, the foundation of all my aspirations, creative, academic and personal. Without you, none of it matters.

To Eliot Bailen, my fantastic cello teacher, a gifted musician, who doesn’t give up on me even when my sound is screechy and vibrato feeble (he will NOT tolerate a note out of tune, though. Never), who makes me laugh and who understands so much.

To Natasha Lipkina, the amazing violin teacher for my daughter, and an astounding performer in her own right, the queen of patience, good taste, and deep sound.

To Susie Eley, for letting me host my salons in your gorgeous gallery, for introducing so much new art into my life.

To all the teachers of my kids, at Trinity and Speyer, for their endless quest to make sure the fire under my kids’ feet and the wind under their wings never die. To ALL the teachers and coaches, in gymnastics, and tennis, and swimming, and surfing. God bless you!

There are many more I love. You know who you are.

I also want to send a P.S. in love, to my beloved St. Petersburg, and my friends there, Sergey and Kirill, Sveta and Lena, Vera and Arkady, and to my dad, and my literary agent, and to my new apartment. And another, separate love note, to Republica Dominicana and all the sweet people that I met there.

All of you, by being you, allowed me to live through the nightmare of the orange evil, and the pandemic. Let this love flow. Let this fire burn. Tomorrow is the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century. And I’m flying back to my beloved DR. Thank you, JetBlue.

Let us travel when we want to, without being afraid, and let us do what we want, without being held back. It’s called living your life to the fullest. It means walking in love. Let it be.

Vica Miller is a native of St. Petersburg (Russia) and has been a New Yorker for three decades. George Plimpton called her a writer, and she believed him. Her first novel, INGA’S ZIGZAGS, was published on May 14, 2014 by Ladno Books. It has been translated into Russian and is slotted for publication by EKSMO in early 2021. Vica is the founder (2009) and curator of the Vica Miller Literary Salons, New York City’s favorite chamber reading series held in private art galleries.  Learn more here.

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