Stasha, aka list guru, asked Amanda from Lilahbility to curate this week’s topic, and she chose “anything about your hometown.” Leaves it pretty wide open, doesn’t it? And as so often happens, this list topic hits…well, it hits close to home. I’ve been thinking a lot about “home,” both literally and metaphorically, because we’re flying back to New York for the holidays and so the talk around here is all about “going home.”

Can New York be my hometown even though I wasn’t born there? Husband (a true born-and-bred New Yorker) insists that I’m Midwestern to the core but my twenty-plus years in New York ought to count for something, don’t you think?  I moved to New York in 1988, intending to leave immediately after I finished my doctorate.  I thought to myself, who in their right mind could actually live in New York?

Apparently, I can. And what’s more, not only did I stay in New York, I had children in New York. On an English professor’s salary. Children who needed food and clothing and shelter and then, eventually, schooling. I’m here to say that basically I lived in New York inside a mathematical impossibility.

I may not be allowed to call myself a New Yorker yet but my kids certainly are. Sometimes I think the best preparation I could have given them for life in Abu Dhabi is life in New York.  Here’s how you know your kids are New Yorkers:

1.  By the age of three, they know how to hail a cab and can shriek “taxi” louder than any Coney Island native.
2.  They learn their alphabet from the subway signs.
3.  Elevators and escalators are not novelties but regular parts of daily life
4.  “Backyards” exist only in New Jersey.
5.  They have favorite exhibits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the armor! the room of weird sculptures! the chariot!)
6.  They accept as a given that their classmates will not necessarily look like them, talk like them, or dress like them.
7.  “Going for a walk” usually means it’s time to do errands.
8.  Nature happens in parks or after a long drive in a rental car.
9.  They don’t stare at the lady pushing her dogs in a baby stroller, the man in the tin-can suit peddling a unicycle, or the woman yelling that the rapture is coming.
10. They know to put a dollar in the bucket of the cellist, the mime, and the man dressed as Boba Fett playing the accordion in Union Square.

photo from Patell and Waterman’s History of New York