New York. There is nothing I can write about it that hasn’t been already said or written. Great minds like Sinatra and Woody Allen have paid tributes to the great city and for great reason. New York, is the world in itself. It’s the epicenter of art, culture and food. A self contained, ball of infectious energy that makes you believe in everything. A magical place where a taxi driver goes to law school at night and a barista becomes an overnight screenplay sensation. It’s the land where dreams come true. No,….it’s more than that.
Think of a place where you run into a story, at every corner. Where your street number can dictate your social standing but can’t limit you to the world of possibilities the city has to offer. Where smells….so many smells and sounds make you feel right at home and yet somehow…overwhelm your senses and surprise you everyday. Where an odd sense of deja vu engulfs you at every step.
I first went to New York in the fall of 2016, and boy was I in for the surprise of a lifetime. I had spent my entire semester trying to fit in but here..here was this place full of people cramped in tiny corners that made me feel right at home. The soft sounds of jazz coming in from a corner at night….A sip of matcha in Korea town. The glaring lights of Times Square. Hidden gems tucked away in quiet corners in the form of anime book stores. If there ever was a heaven, this sure would come close to my version to it.
Needless to say, the first time I visited….I was overwhelmed. I had a day. Only a day, I know….blasphemy. And yet this day continues to be one of my most treasured memories. I spent the day with someone very special…walking around. Taking in the city, the music, the art and everything I could lay my hands and eyes on. I wanted it all. But soon my day came to an end and I took the night bus back to State College. I had the chance of visiting again a couple of weeks ago. And somehow…it felt better. The unbridled excitement gave way to a warm…familiar feeling of belonging. It felt like I knew these streets and somehow…they knew me. I spent the entire weekend doing everything touristy that I could think of. I did Central Park, Empire State, The MET, New York Stock Exchange…the whole shabang. I rode the subway, and ate falafel for lunch. But most of all…I tried to think about what was it about this city that made it so special. Numerous sitcoms were based in this city. Romanticizing the streets, the life and yet I couldn’t quite place my finger on why I loved this place so much.
And here I am, almost a month later realizing exactly why. New York sells a dream. A dream where people of all color coexist. People spend their days staring at paintings made by crazed painters in the 19th century. Where icecream can mean a lot more than just a scoop of sugar rush…it has history. Where you can never run out of things to do. Where you can spend one night at a stand up show and the other pouring your heart out at a poetry slam. A place with no judgement. The roads are fast, grimy…marked by stories and songs and beauty. A place where freedom of expression takes its truest, rawest form in the form of people. Voices. Smiles. And everyone who comes here, leaves a little bit of themselves here. As did I. New York is the world I wish I could live in everyday. The city I hope I can call my own someday (and secretly still do).
For what more can I say than,
“I wanna wake up in a city
That doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill
Top of the heap
These little town blues
Are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York“.