To be noticed, but not interrupted. It’s comforting to be seen in our grief, there is a confirmation in it — however awkward it makes us feel. Is that part of why we live here? New Yorkers do tend to be the kind of people with both a need to be seen, and a deep fear of it. Somehow, this place satisfies both.
When I first moved here, I loved to ride the elevated trains, especially at night, when I could glimpse the thousands of glowing windows, each an indication of a life or a cluster of lives, as rich and difficult and sweet as my own. Glimpsing inside, seeing the moment when the lights go on — or off — is a confirmation of our likenesses, our common depths.