Sunday, July 8, 2012

New York I Love You But

Completely out of my comfort zone, I’ve become a stereotype of myself.

It’s not a new phenomenon, this self-conscious embodiment of the things I think I should like and have been. In foreign cities, I’ve turned to the familiarity of mass disassociated from religion but inextricably and comfortingly tied to middle school memories of “liturgy dress” and catechism class. Sometimes I still listen to the Goo Goo Dolls to recall self-indulgently angst-driven train rides to high school.

And now, an editorial intern at Glamour, I’m getting those freshman in high school feelings again. Only now I’m a grown-up (the kind of grown-up who calls her mom to say, “Mom! Today I wore flats on the subway and then put heels on at work: I’m a grown-up!”). Now that I am a self-asserting adult, I know it would be childish to quell angst by listening to alt-rock hits of the early 2000s. Now I need to seek belonging in mature ways. Now I spend most weekends in Brooklyn.

July 4th celebrations at Coney Island
Maybe it boils down to the insider-outsider dynamic. I’m new at this Manhattan-living-fashion-magazine-working-thing, and I feel like an outsider who’s snuck into the inner circle. Because I am on the inside—way more inside than I ever have been. I swipe into 4 Times Square with a blasé look that took weeks to master; I already mourn the day when my @condenast.com email will disappear. I know secrets: cover girls, story ideas, passwords, contracts. I know things, and I live at the center of it all.

But, as an intern and person whose go-to small talk consists of “I’m still not sure about this whole New York thing,” I often don’t feel like I am. And so, when NY is bringing me down, I sit on my little Kermit-frog-rock in the Hudson and moan about the madmen Elmos in the Park. And then I skip off to Williamsburg and look at the skyline from across the way.

And I'm not the only one.
If you’ll allow me the jump (you’ve already allowed me the skip), it’s a similar feeling to that which I’ve inferred of the magazine business. A magazine’s staff will reflect its product and its audience. Glamour’s, for instance, is stylish, friendly, honest, smart—your best gal friends at brunch. But they’re apart from it, too—able to see what the audience wants and needs, and to address that, to take a special pride in that removed sense of what’s what and should be where.

It’s not just that I love Brooklyn; it’s that I love Manhattan’s skyline most when I see it from across the Hudson.

           -Michelle B. Timmerman, Harvard University, ASME intern at Glamour

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