I found this piece this morning and when I read it, knew I wanted to share it again. I remember those years ago, being scared to come here. Of feeling so very alone. And I remember this, too. The amazing feeling of home, of being able - despite the miles of concrete, to put down roots. To flourish. And that's the one that stuck. It does to this day. This city is still mine, in fact beautifully, it's now ours; something I would have never considered possible when I originally typed this out.
And,I am still hers. So very very many changes and years later--
My First Year
I reclaimed my city tonight. That's right, my city. I'll own her tonight.
Tonight, as I walk through the hordes of tourists in Times Square, past the beautifully lit Bryant Park. Past the men sleeping near the lions of the library, past the couple smoking on the corner outside the cafe. As I meander down fifth avenue and the stores I'll never shop at. Past all of it, past the good and the bad.
Pass the train steps, reeking of some unidentifiable smell. Pass the bodega, the smell of sunflowers and lavender and roses.
In the quiet emptiness of Lexington and 37th. The dark buildings, where I stop my music and watch my shadow to know if someone's behind me.
Through all of it. Through the business and the noise. Through the energy of millions of people sharing such a small place and somehow surviving, most of them at least.
Walking through all of it I remember why I'm here. I realize that this city is at once my greatest adversary and most loyal supporter. Where being alone is an amazing blessing. Being able to walk to the sounds of Ani Difranco and Ben Folds and Dar Williams, each step I take falling in line with the rythms. Having the sirens and horns as a strange accompaniment.
I can look up and see the absolute breath-taking beauty of the lights of the buildings against the purest black of the ever-starless sky. I can know that somehow I've have found my way here. I am finding my way here. I feel my feet hit the pavement and I know I am meant to live here. Meant to be a part of all this, how somehow I have been on a strange and meandering journey and at last it has brought me here; to this place.
To this new home. This horrible place. This city that makes me cry as much as it makes me fly.
But tonight I am flying. Tonight I am feeling powerful and at peace. Tonight I know I have made it through this year unscathed. And I will make it through another one, and one after that.
I will lay, exhausted every night, and dream of mountains instead of buildings, of fields instead of lots. I will hold the sound of the birds outside my window as I wake with a precious and cautious embrace, missing the sound of katydids in the summer. Imagining what it would be like to have lightening bugs to chase instead of cockroaches to step over.
But I will know I belong here. I will walk outside to join the thousands I pass everyday, I will smile at the doorman on 34th, guy a banana from the vendor on 36th. I will watch the myriad of people at the bus stops, I will be one of millions. I will be unimportant and small. No one will notice me, no one will care about my trials and tribulations - they have enough of their own.
And yet, I will still be here and I will still move forward and I will be better for it. I am better for it.
There will never be a time I do not close my eyes as the wind stretches across my face as I wait on the corner and not immediately feel the wind at home. The kind that blows across miles and brings you news of endless highways and infinite horizons. I will never not long for that.
I will carry my home in my heart as I traverse this perverse and bizarre place, and I believe that is what will keep me sane.
But I will still be here. And I will be glad of my choice. I will look up at the moon, who has not abandoned me as the fickle stars have. And I will know she shines on everyone and everywhere I love and I will be home.
I reclaim my city tonight. And all she is to me. And I will thank her for the best year of my life.
And I continue to. Thank her, that is. Because magically it seems things only get more wonderful as my time here passes.
6 years ago