Red Balloon

New York City is beautiful.

Red Balloon on W 86th Street

I gave myself a challenge this afternoon.  My mission was to step outside of my building and find something beautiful, right there.  Then write about it.  I lucked out!  Stepping outside of my building, I looked to the right and this red balloon was tethered to a pole a few paces away. Translucent, evocative beauty, isn’t she?

However, when I gave myself this assignment, I kind of knew, going into this experiment, that I would find something.  This is New York City after all.  There’s always something interesting to see. You simply need to look.

All my life I’ve fielded comments and questions about growing up in New York City. Like most New Yorkers, I’ve taken my fair share of NYC bashing.  People, sometimes even family members, who live elsewhere in other cities, towns or suburbs have said to me, “How on earth can you live in a place like New York City?  It’s dirty and noisy and so crowded.  I would hate living there.”

Imagine for a moment that I would turn to that person and say, “Gee, I don’t understand how you could possibly live in ______.  There’s nothing going on there and you must be bored out of your mind.”  That person would probably be incensed.  Outraged and downright insulted. Rightly so.  It’s rude and presumptuous to say such things about where a person has chosen to live, and yet, people permit themselves to make these comments to New Yorkers all the time.

I’m married to a Frenchman, so we get this in spades.  Admit it.  You’ve done it.  You like to make fun of the French. Hey, I’m a huge fan of Peter Sellers and his fabulous Chief Inspector Clouseau. It’s hilarious. “Fraunch Fries, Fraunch Toast, Pepe le pew (puer means stink in French in case you didn’t know that).  Gay or French!”  However, once again, imagine substituting French with Chinese, Russian, Egyptian, Chilean… Unthinkable to make fun of other ethnic groups with such impunity without incurring the PC-police’s wrath.

I’m not saying people are wrong.  New York is dirty, noisy and crowded.  French people are… French. But what gives? What do New York City and the French have in common?  Why is it ok to rip apart someone’s choice to live in NYC and why on earth is it so acceptable to poke fun at French people?

This was so not where I was going with this post, but it’s where I am now!

I’m not sure how I got onto this subject, but I suspect it has something to do with that red balloon.  You probably remember that lovely French film, no? And who else loves New York City; the French! : )

Anyway, here’s my quick 2 cent, super-overly-simplistic theory.  New York is awesome. We know it’s awesome. A bajillion tourists come here every day to visit this noisy, dirty, crowded place and millions more dream of coming one day.  France is awesome.  A bajillion tourists go there every day and millions more dream of going there one day, so the French must be doing something very right.  My mom used to tell me that when people were mean to me it was because they were jealous.  That was crap to make me feel better, I know.  However, in this particular instance, she would have been right.  Well, not really.  Jealous is perhaps the wrong word. The word, envious, might be a better choice.

I think of the little French boy in the film “The Red Balloon” and how the bullies envy him his prize balloon.  Remember how that balloon has a mind of its own?  Its own personality and agenda. The bullies destroy the red balloon, but in the end a posse of balloons comes to the little boy’s rescue and takes him on an extraordinary flight above Paris.

I chose to live in New York City.  In spite of the loud, filthy mobs of people, I love this city. Yes, my boys and my husband and I live in a one bedroom apartment.  Yes, just like in those 70s movies, I sleep in a Murphy/wall bed.  We do not own a car, in fact I barely know how to drive.  We jump through flaming hoops to keep our children in a wonderful school that we can’t afford, but where they are exposed to so many interesting people and learning experiences daily.  We know far too much about our neighbors’ intimate lives and they ours.  It’s not for everyone, but I love it and it’s home!

Don’t burst my balloon.  Enjoy it for what it is.  Enjoy that you don’t have to live here if you don’t want to! Look around your home and see what is beautiful right outside your doorstep. Beauty is here. It’s there.  Like Savoir Faire, “It’s everywhere!” Remember this? –

Happy longer days of Spring.





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© 2018 Jenny Bruce