New York has always been perfection to me. It always will be. From the suburban enclave I was raised in to the bright, blinking and bustling city I got familiar with after starting high school. The overwhelming smell of jerk chicken on a grill and reggae pouring out of backyards in the summertime. The lilt of patois on crowded dollar vans running up and down Merrick Blvd that I used to be so scared of because I didn't trust strange drivers. Chugging along on the E, J, F, A, C, L, G and whatever other trains to take me to hubs of faceless people who pique my interest. So many shapes, sizes, colors, flavors, personalities. The ice cold silence on public transportation that I find oddly comforting. Scornful eyes following the person that bumped you a little too hard on the crowded platform, but the anger disappearing when you snag that empty seat. The sucking of teeth when you hear "Showtime!" in between express stops. Strolling around SoHo as if you're actually going to buy anything other than an H&M blouse and chicken over rice from the halal vendor. Watching the break dancers, skateboarders, lovers, homeless people, chess players and Hare Krishnas coexist in Union Square after dark. Being able to grab a Caramel Frappucino from Starbucks from any corner even though you don't really drink coffee like that. Knowing that the kids with hole-ridden Chuck Taylors, frayed jeans and greasy hair crammed into a beanie probably have more money than you. No one notices. No one cares. It's just the New Yorker way. I love it. Knowing that no matter how many people are around you, you are alone and not alone at the same time. You can be ass naked, or dressed head to toe in Balmain, if people turn their heads, it's only for an instant. And then the individual memory of you is gone as they hit the next traffic light. You exist as a people. Powerful in bulk. That was the main thing I loved about this city rife with individuality but majestic in all its anonymity.
And today, I realized that that sweet city relic is my handicap. Existing en mass, the urban charm that I usually brag about, is probably the source of recurring bouts of depression (not clinical, a girl just gets sad sometimes).
I keep a running tab of all the photographers whose work I love. Yes, I think I'm good at what I do and proud of what I've produced thus far. But I know I can, and need to, go deeper. Seeing them come alive when they shoot the subjects they're passionate above. Same with writers. And artists. Creating and curating and sharing and living and it's beautiful and I'm just here. Bookmarking articles from pen gawds and dope pictures I wish I took because i'm A, stuck in a monotonous and colorless routine, B, don't know what's truly "my thing," and C, too scared to take risks and spend money I don't have and talk to people I don't know to change it.
I creep through Instagram, vicariously living through people's memories of things they've done and ways they've shined, wondering why the hell I'm sitting still, cotched in my room in far out Queens doing not a damn thing but scouring my feedly for the next Kanye West rant or Beyonce tumblr post.
And I'm like, is this life? People always tell me how well I'm doing and how much I've accomplished. How lucky I am to be here in amazing New York, the city of promise and opportunity and the best place to flourish. To an extent, I agree. But it's hard to nod along when I can't see it, not all of it at least. I'm on a totally different comparison scale as them. I don't know what they see, but I see what a successful me looks like a little differently: I'd know what I want. I'd know that I'm happy. I'd know who I am. And right now, I'm sure of only 10% of that.
New York is a great place to come here and conquer, but I'm coasting almost idly on my own stomping grounds. I don't feel that same rush as every other transplant. I live in what I see as the most awesome place in the world, but I kind of only just exist here as an awestruck spectator.