Higher New York
is a place, and not a place. It is a version of the city of my birth and home, New York City (the fact that I don't actually reside there at the moment is immaterial). It contains all the things about New York that are magical; all the things that are legendary, and all the things that are mundane and unsung. It looks remarkably like New York, in much the same way that Gotham City
looks remarkably like New York
. Part of it overlaps New York in a dimension not demonstrable in our spacetime. If you turn a corner in New York, there's a possibility that for a few moments you will not in fact be on the street you turned into, but on the same street in Higher New York. Look around. Do you see plant boxes in the brownstones? Do you see scrubbed surfaces? Do you see the Shop Around the Corner
from that weepy Hanks/Ryan movie? Do you perhaps see Ralph Ellison
, slipping away up the street, out of the corner of your eye? Then you may have crossed the line.
I cross it often. Every time I look up, down or up Park Avenue, and see the proud letters PAN AM atop the endzone skyscraper, I smile, for I know I'm there. Every time I pass through the Times Square Shuttle station, look over an see a small nondescript drainpipe that George Selden wrote of, I feel it flicker around me. Every time I look up, my eye caught by a flutter of motion, and see the last quick flicker of red and black as a famous webcrawler zips around the corner at the fifth floor level, I know my imagination passport has been stamped once more.
You see, you can choose to live in New York. In much the same way, you can choose to live in Higher New York. Rightfully, this would be simply New York, whereas the version that most of us find ourselves stuck in all too often would be Lower New York, but TANJ, after all. Everything that makes New York my home forevermore, lives somewhere in HNY. People helping each other across the street. Buses waiting a moment when you run for them shouting. Subways where groups of Hispanic males sing for random nervous women on the train as a gentle teasing reminder about stereotypes.
I write about Higher New York often. Sometimes it's called Alter New York, when it's not clear that it is in fact a preferable locale to the mundane one. Oh, yes, it's not all sweetness and light. Sometimes things happen that simply couldn't happen in NYC, encumbered as it is by physicality and rules. Sometimes darkened figures slip around the corner, waiting for the unwary traveler. The Caped Crusader lives here, sometimes, when not on patrol in Gotham; he waits and watches over those unwary souls whose well-being he has accepted as his charge. Colleagues wait with him: Rorschach, Nite Owl, Spiderman, Officer Kelly, and the helpful neighbor. Sometimes they are forced to defend it, with blood and iron.
There is no higher plane or noble place without pain, however. Pain is an essential definer of the space. Without it, there is no nobility; there is no relief, and there is no heroism.
All of those, and more, live in Higher New York.