As you read this, I’ll just have returned from New York and New York Comic Con for the year. It’ll have been the… fourth one I attended, I think…? Maybe the fifth; time and memory are weird that way. It’s a show I enjoy, but the reason for attending each year — besides the fact that I’m there for work — is that it allows me to fly to the other coast and spend time in New York City for a few days.
The first time I was there was in 1998, on a trip with art school. I was somewhere between student and teacher on the trip; I was studying for my MA and was unofficially helping the actual teachers keep track of all the other students, which basically amounted to being available in case of emergency. (The closest thing to an emergency was when a gang of students got in trouble for drinking out of open containers on the street; in the end, they apologized and promised to behave, and almost fulfilled that promise.)
I remember wandering the streets, listening to music a lot. I was listening to Primal Scream, David Holmes, that kind of urban sprawl of music and feeling very in tune with everything going on around me. The city felt alive, but unsettling, dangerous and filled with potential of anything and everything happening at any point. I’d search out bookstores to recharge and feel comfortable, I remember; they felt familiar and alien at the same time. It was thrilling.
I went back to New York a number of times after that, periodically, but the circumstance was always different. Last year’s NYCC trip was, oddly, the first time it felt like that 1998 trip again; two decades later, but feeling as simultaneously lost and full of potential as I has 20 years earlier. I walked the length on Manhattan the first morning I was there without realizing, thinking, this is how everything is supposed to feel, and once again listening to Primal Scream on my headphones.