Reborn in New York
I was planning to write another controversial hub. But I decided to pause from my usual dissection of big concepts to make way for something important that occurred to me today. This city which I have found myself in suddenly in the middle of my adult life, has captured a passion I usually reserve for larger themes. These themes revolve around the vicinity of G-d, the Universe and Consciousness. In the midst of this landscape in my mind, is a small island called Manhattan, the heart of the city of New York.
Why is it that New Yorkers speak of New York like a lover? Those who leave, long to come back as though they had left a passionate affair with its streets. They describe Central Park in autumn in the same wistful way a lovesick man would talk about the hair and skin of his new lover. Some of those who left New York, speak of it with a resigned tone that reminds me of a divorced man who spoke of an ex-wife he gave everything to. New York is like a beautiful woman that expects the world from you.
New York is indeed one of the most enigmatic cities in the world. It is not the prettiest. I have lived in prettier cities in my life, where castles and seagulls pepper the landscape. But nothing can quite compare to New York’s odd charm. It is dirty. Piles of black plastic filled with garbage line the streets at night. The steam that shoot up from the ground, the yellow cabs that pass through them all make the city look more dangerous than it is.
The throngs of tourist that flow through the bright lights in Times Square go through the city like ghosts pass through walls. They come and go. These strangers make you feel entirely invisible. Yet, for some reason this is precisely why New York gives you the feeling that right here in obscurity, is you being allowed to emerge from hiding.
Your invisibility gives you the license to be anything you want to be. In New York, you are stripped of the roles you are forced to play in the part of the world where you came from. Gay men become gay in New York. Catholic girls wear stilettos and strip down to who they are. Lost souls find their faith in New York away from the prying eyes of patriarchs and matriarchs of all the oppressive shoulds. The men who survive in New York are conquerors. They fight tooth and nail for the few seats that the city offers. The skyscrapers--its arena of mind sport.
A scientist finding a cure for cancer in
Starbucks sits across a cancer survivor. They talk to each other as people. Meeting suddenly face to face, one becomes the damsel to her unknown knight. The moment is gigantic. Then just like that they stand up, throw their cups in the garbage and walk away in opposite directions, as if no connection was made.
In New York, you spill your soul to a stranger and that person becomes your
long lost friend for a few minutes before he becomes a stranger
With all these going on in this city, there is room for my daughter to have a quiet day in the park, to smell wildflowers in Cherry Hill with her friends, friends she will most likely grow up with. There is also a tiny space for a strange bird like myself to finally be comfortable in my own feathers.
This small city feels
bigger than it is. In the midst of this invisibility I finally see clearly who I have always
been underneath all those eyes that use to constantly measure me. Nobody cares
who you are here. That is what is liberating about this place. In the
same way that the love of your life shows you your true face, New York allows
you to reveal the self under that skin. I understand now, why New Yorkers live here and die in other places.
You don’t have to be born in New York to be born in New York.