When I travel and people ask me where I live I say “New York.”
But when a New Yorker asks, I would say I live in “the City.”
The person would understand I mean Manhattan.
To New Yorkers, “the City” means the island settled by the Dutch.
When you live in one of the other four boroughs you say so.
“Do you live in the City?”
“No, I live in Brooklyn.”
When a New Yorker asks where I’m from I say New Jersey.
It’s an unwritten rule among the natives that you aren’t from New York unless you were born here.
I’ve lived in the City for 24 years, but I wouldn’t tell another New Yorker I’m from here.
My son is a different story.
He was born in Manhattan on the East Side, in New York Hospital no less.
He came home in a yellow cab.
He’s lived his entire life on the Upper West Side.
He learned to ice skate at Lasker Rink in Central Park and ride a bike at the Great Hill.
He’s gone to public schools.
He’s a native New Yorker.
This week he turned 12.
I was taking the subway with my son the other day. There were no seats so we had to stand. I realized that he wasn’t holding on to the pole.
He was standing, his legs a bit spread apart, but balancing his weight perfectly. He knew instinctively how to lean slightly back when the train pulled out of the station and shift his weight forward when the subway slowed down.
He was subway surfing. I never taught him that. He just learned by living here.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s a native.
**Published by Ted Merz Nov 28, 2014**