***This was the first post of my first blog, circa 2010. I’ve since moved to queens, though its 2013 and I’m still in NYC. It’s harder to get to know lady liberty than I thought–or maybe I just like what I see. I’ll be re-posting a best-of from that old blog while I work out the kinks on this new one.***
Yesterday I moved to Brooklyn and began what I expect to be a one year adventure in New York City. I want to get intimate with this place. When I wake up each morning I want to roll over and feel Lady Liberty breathing softly on my neck.
If one desires to really get to know this world, getting into bed with New York should be near the top of their list. If it exists anywhere, it exists here. For better or worse, New York’s got it. There is an incredible diversity here that, as far as I can tell, does not exist anywhere else. Inside the crowded apartment that is my new home almost all the communication I hear is in Polish, passed between Eastern European immigrants. Once outside the front door you’re most likely to hear Spanish, broken into half a dozen different dialects from all over the Americas. Crossing the street and descending a flight of stairs you can walk underneath my home and get on a subway which in a few short minutes can take you to any number of completely different worlds within the city limits. NYC is a world within a world. People from every corner of the planet come here and not only do they bring their different languages, customs and traditions with them, they also bring a tremendous ambition. People go to other places to die; they come here to be alive. It’s a really incredible place and I’m infatuated with the ambition and diversity that exists here. This is the air I want to breathe.
It’s worth mentioning that this air is polluted and cold though. NYC is probably the most selfish and superficial place on earth, and if there is one king that rules this vast castle it is the almighty dollar. It’s a concrete killing field that washes itself in the blood of others. It is a place that in many ways brings out the worst in people; but it also brings out the best in them. Amidst the frigid hearts of the local population, human compassion rages. Alongside all the inspiration of aspiration is the dulling sensation of apathy. If you could take the whole world, all that is wrong with it and all that is right, if you could take that and squeeze it into a single city, it would be called New York.
For me personally this will be a strange mix as well. I grew up an hours drive from here but want to come at the place with the perspective of a foreigner, and in many ways that is how I feel in this place and this nation. For the better part of my adult life I have bounced around warm nations in the developing world trying to understand through experiencing. Natives understand their home in one way, visitors in another. I think the truth lies somewhere in between and that is where I hope to go. Usually when I arrive in any new place I take a long walk around the city. This helps me to get to know the place and it is also how I usually make friends and find work. Today, for the first time in my life, I woke up in Brooklyn and went outside for a walk. Turns out, Brooklyn is really cold in January. People aren’t overly friendly to strangers here either, and while this is the best economy I have ever sought work in, it’s also geared towards long term employment where it takes weeks rather than minutes to get hired. It was too cold for me today and I didn’t walk that much. I didn’t make any new friends or find any work either. But today was just one day and I have three hundred sixty four more to learn by doing. I have no idea what I will do or how it will turn out, but one year seems like enough time for me to persuade Lady Liberty to take off all her clothes.
paz. amor. esperanza. john.