Thursday, April 24, 2008

Leaving New York Never Easy

A whole chapter of my PhD is dedicated to movies. Horror movies and super-hero movies to be precise, but movies nonetheless even though to some both of these are the epitome of dumbing down. They are not; they are socially extremely powerful. Still, a part of me wishes I could drop in references to old movies (say, Casablanca) because that is what is regarded as the intelligent thing to do, isn't it? Yet, there is one movie above all others that I could never tire of watching or playing in the background as I iron or tidy up; You’ve Got Mail. Mail is hardly Tom’s most sparkling one, yet it is clearly symptomatic of why he makes so much money and nobody minds one bit about it. Mail captivates me every time as if it were the first. Even now, its catchy soundtrack distracts me and I find my gaze wandering from this to the small window in the top corner where Meg Ryan too is sitting on a bed with her Mac on her lap and her charming online companion offers her advice from cyberspace. What I love the most is that it is set in New York, a New York very different from the one of Wall Street or American Psycho or any Woody Allen offering. No matter how many times I visit, I go on a Mail pilgrimage, hopping from Riverside Park to the endearing townhouses overlooking it, from Zabar’s to H&H Bagels, from little upper west side cafes to the ever-classic Starbucks.

When I watch Mail, I feel like I am taking a bed tour of my favourite places, like the movie was shot in my back streets. And even though I may not live in New York, it is fair to say that I have enough of an emotional attachment to it, and this movie, to call it a second home. I got married there and I met my husband online in the days when Mail was new and online dating did not exist. I hang onto a very romanticised view of New York where my life is perfect, where I haven't got a care in the world, where all I need worrying about is hopping from cab to cab and from museum to shop. I suppose that's also one of the reasons why leaving New York is never easy. Much as many people claim that we need, even crave, the regular domestic space, the regular work routine and so on, I know that, at least for me, it ain't true. I would quite happily swap my intellectually challenging working life for one of leisure. And anyway, who says that working inside the house is less challenging than working outside of it? I'd sure love to try.

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