When we first moved to New York, H1 and I would utter the words, 'We live here' in voices tainted with an interesting combination of awe, horror, and confusion, every time we saw something that brought the obvious home to us with a shocking jolt - the view over Central Park, the hot dog vendors on every street corner, the hordes of yellow taxis clogging up the roads, the Empire State building all lit up - and we would laugh, because really, what else can you do when a place that is so completely familiar, yet is so totally bizarre, is suddenly your home?
As we've slowly settled in, and the familiarity has grown and changed to the familiarity associated with the everyday recognisable, we have said it less often, even though it is no less amazing today than it was just a few short months ago. It's funny, however, because although I'm quite aware that we do live in New York (yes, fully cognizant of my surroundings, thank you) I also feel that primarily we live in Murray Hill, with New York coming in a distant second to that.
Murray Hill is my neighbourhood, you see, just as Fulham was in London. New York is a different place from London, of course, and the whole idea of the city being merely a series of villages attached by a decent public transportation system is much less convincing here, but that idea does still have some relevance. The village part, that is. The public transportation is most definitely not decent here (hence the hordes of yellow taxis, I suppose). But New York - or even just Manhattan - does have a certain definition around the 'villages' that create this whole.
Where I live, Murray Hill, is a slight incline (I know - who'd have thought, right?) taking tired feet away from the rush of Midtown. You walk down it, and to the east of aforementioned Empire State Building, and as if by magic, gone are the business men and the bulk of the tourists (not all. Some get lost, you see, and wander round with their maps upside down, peering hopefully at every green patch in case it's Central Park). It's a funny, patchy area, with hushed, tree-lined streets concealing classically discreet townhouses worth eye-watering amounts, which snuggle up against wider, busier thoroughfares that brashly display their size and credentials to the world. Flower shops and delis that look like they have always been here, as if they just grew out of the ground a long time ago, are juxtaposed with an entire avenue of bars and restaurants that make you want to eat and party, no matter the time of day.
The people of Murray Hill are predominantly young, which could just possibly have some correlation with the proliferation of bars. Lots of students from NYU Medical School base themselves here. I shouldn't know that, because one would assume they are always studying, but apparently there is a library in the back of some of the more 'frat-boy' establishments. That's where they spend a healthy amount of time, anyway (yes, pun completely intended). There are a few older people, mainly of the 'lady with small dog and fur coat variety' - a fact which makes me very happy. And there are a few - a very few - kids, most likely belonging to those not willing to change their lifestyles too dramatically just for the sake of children (not meant to be condemnatory - I very much intend to be one of those people).
It's a nice little corner of New York, not completely charming, like the West Village, not completely cool, like the Meatpacking District, not different and edgy, like Williamsburg - but with enough of each of those to keep the H's happy. We like it, a lot - enough that now when we say it, it's with happiness and contentment, every time. We live here.