There is a special private joy and privilege to experiencing the holiday in the neighborhood. The streets are so empty!
I was able to park directly in front of my house, I got a seat on every subway I rode, and everyone seemed relaxed and happy. It's like a Bizarro New York, where the gift to New Yorkers is simply fewer of us for a few days.
I know it must sound ironic to have a transplant saying that the gift to New Yorkers would be fewer New Yorkers, but I would like to propose that there are three varieties of New Yorkers and we all get to live here.
The first kind of New Yorker is the Lifelong Resident. These New Yorkers are the ultimate ones, they have been born and raised here, and know their neighborhood like only lifers can. Their attitudes and takes on the city are driven by deep understanding.
My friend Pauline, a lifelong resident, always laughs at people getting upset by new buildings or proposed changes, and can describe without too much emotion all the weird cycles she's seen in her life here.
She is cynical and hilarious, and has a tender heart beneath it all. She can always offer me the perspective I need to avoid getting carried away in the phony nostalgia that I carry around with me. The natives are also the protectors of New York's identity, and can call the rest of us out when we are being soft or stupid.
The kind of New Yorker I am is the Adopted New Yorker. We haven't lived here our whole life, but we've lived here for a major chunk of it and would be absolutely loathe to leave.
I count myself among many passionate transplants and immigrants who weren't born here, but went through hell and high water to get here because we chose it.
We most likely didn't fit in where we came from, to be honest. This is why we get super involved in our scene, be it activism or art or music or, I don't know, urban gardening, because we have lived in places where these riches were harder to find or be a part of, and because we want to protect this beautiful place that we love so much.
The other kind of New Yorker I gently refer to as the Residential Tourist New Yorker. These folks came here for the novelty of it or for a job opportunity or school, and have no intention of staying. They are dazzled by New York, but maybe secretly feel like they aren't strong enough to survive here, so they play it off as if they are disgusted by New York.
These are the folks who complain about pretty basic facts about the city - the dirt and garbage in the street, cockroaches, someone's elbow bashing into them when they cross the street.
They came here knowing they were going to leave, and leave they will. Residential Tourist New Yorkers were really happy, comfortable and successful in their hometowns, and aren't ready to fight for it here. I am very wary of this archetype.
As an adopted New Yorker, my love for this city is ever growing and bursting. Thank you, Greenpoint, for being my special place to call home that I get to love this much.