Just like New York

Pops called me daughter, dropping the grand. Sometimes he called me oh girl. “Oh girl, oh girl, oh girl,” he’d say when he entered the room, and I knew he was talking to me. He had voice, and I loved him for it. But, I liked it best when he said “Just like New York.” He said it about anything fancy, or modern, or strange. He said it about people. He said it just to say it. Both Nannie and Pops had lived in upstate New York, and for a short time when Pops was in the army, Nannie lived close to New York City. I never knew exactly which New York he was referencing. But I was obsessed with living in NYC, so I liked to assume that’s what Pops meant. Every time he called something just like New York, I wanted desperately to know why he said it, to understand the comparison, to gain some insider knowledge. Most of the time, I was looking for meaning where there wasn’t any.

This morning, while walking back to my apartment after my early lesson, I saw some graffiti on the gates of several closed shops. “Just like New York,” I said aloud, before I even realized what I was saying.

*this was supposed to be an entry about Moroccan hip hop and graffiti. Whoops. But click on this photo to check out some Maghrebi hip hop. Photo links to Bigg's (above, left) Mabightch, or Don't Want To.

When I decided to move back to Morocco, I’d felt the need to justify my decision to everyone I knew, especially my friends and family in New York. How do you leave a city like that behind?  Maybe you don’t. And maybe that’s what Pops was thinking to. Once New York City builds a miniature version of itself inside you, it’s hard to escape. So, I’ll keep looking for pieces of New York wherever I am. Because the similes bring me home.

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Categories: Morocco, wanderings | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Just like New York

  1. I was just discussing that with Kate when we were hiking the other day. Though of course I am currently still embedded in the monster. But yes, it seems like a living organism that you can’t expel. A good one!

  2. Grandma Adele Bingham was born in March of 1901 (I think the day after my grandfather), in New Jersey?
    I remember she loved Lloyd Bridges and we watched “Sea Hunt” on TV when we were there. We played RACKO with her (1950s) at her home in East Hartford, CT.
    She had several favorite sayings:
    “She wouldn’t say ‘shit’ if her mouth were full of it”, a compliment, I believe.
    “Just like New York!” which I never understood but seemed to mean something was special. I found this online.

  3. Lauren Gross

    My father used to say, “Just like New York!” He said it to mean, “Ain’t this grand!” Like when something would work out perfectly, like while taking in the view at the top of a mountain…a view you would never see if you hadn’t taken the considerable trouble to climb the mountain. I think it came from his days in the service in the 1950’s. He’d say it when, with some effort, we’d have a perfect moment. Like when savoring freshly caught trout at the end of a long day of fishing. Or when something was done “ingeniously” – like fixing a shoe lace for one of the kids by tying one broken end to the other. It meant, “It’s done, and done well enough so that it’s just like the way they do it in New York City.” Cool that your grandpa said this too. It’s one of the things I miss about my dad the most. It expresses to me what it means when a successful result comes from a “can do” attitude. A little American ingenuity.

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