Lost in New York

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.

It's hard as fcuk to find yourself here, because in all honesty, you don't really have to. They're so much going on in front of peoples' eyes and in their own lives that no one really sees you. They may look at you from time to time, sure, but you're never really seen. I'm not accustomed to being seen. I'm just here. And I didn't realize how much of a problem that was for someone as instinctively closed as me. For someone who doesn't really quite know herself. Yeah, yeah, I know certain things about me. I know some things I like, some things I can't stand and some things that intrigue me. But I can honestly say I don't know myself the way I should at this point in my life. I haven't been forced to find me. Ever. I've been smooth sailing in anonymity my whole life. Being vastly unknown is such a comfort until you step outside the parameters for just a second and realize that there's more. And thus, there's got to be more to me. But I have to step out on a limb and find it. I'm not going to know what's outside the bubble from the center of a moving crowd. I'm safe here. But I can't necessarily say that I'm happy.

When I graduated from college (the root of all my epiphanies, I'm sure), I wrote a letter to myself. The inspiration and contents of the two year old letter are foggy, which I'm happy about because that's the point. But I know that when I was writing it, sitting amongst all the possessions boxed up for the drive back to NY, I felt lost and unhappy. I sealed the envelope and signed the front with one rule: Do not open until you have found yourself.

The envelope remains unopened and buried somewhere in a crevice of my room because I haven't met the basic prerequisite.

I feel like in order to find whatever the hell I'm looking for—which could be nothing at all—I have to go. Just go. Kind of without thinking almost. I just have to be somewhere other than New York and start from scratch. Take risks while being scared shxtless. Talk to people. Be uncomfortable and deal with the discomfort. Have intense emotions other than an extreme case of wondering. It needs to feel more like wanderlust. Want to change. Create stuff. I dunno. Learn to stand on my own and let myself be out in the open with everything to lose. Tell New York to finally let go of my hand. 

Comments

  1. beautiful. you're capturing, i feel, the neurosis of countless millennials. Nothing is ever enough, good is never good enough. But acknowledgment, as they say, is the first step. best wishes

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your writing skills are amazing! Dope…Dope…Dope

    ReplyDelete
  3. This resonated with me SO much. Thank you.

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