Manhattan has always been sort of a mecca for me, a place I go not only with the intent of visiting but with the hope it’ll capture me up.
The last time I was in the city, it was a profoundly healing time. It was the end of my senior year of High School, the year I more or less discovered a whole lot of who I wanted to be through much redemption of two years fighting myself and doubting the very thoughts that uphold my life. Being in the city and learning to navigate the streets, I found peace in one of the busiest places in the world.
Now, more than a year later, I was anxious to visit to see what else I could find, what new revelations would resonate. Like many trips, the trip striped back the surpassed layer of life that I often forget to peel away, burdening me with the bitter cup of this world. Yet it was such a time to be alive: to see my nine year old brother (the same age I was when I first visited) have his eyes excitedly lit with the lights of the city, to spend time with my family – whom I love with such a deep, overwhelming love that no time cannot make up for – before some time apart, to hear the wisdom of my Father who knows the city and life in a way I long to, and to walk the streets with my older brother discussing all things from the fine art that lines the walls of the MET to hip-hop.
Here is New York, captured by my camera in the way I choose to see it: bold, brave, tender, and wild:
It’s 8AM in Soho. The street is full of people briskly walking to work, runners, dog-walkers, and a odd line of people in front of a bakery. The question arises, “What bakery is worth a line?”. The bakery is Dominique Ansel and the crowd is for the creation of the Cronut: the child of a croissant and donut that’s made its way up in the world.
I’d heard the marvels of the Cronut and I can say it was 100% worthy of all expectations.
While sitting in the bakery’s courtyard eating the glorious pastry, I asked myself a question: why do we stand in line for breakfast? Why do we marvel over something simple as food? Don’t we have more important things to do?
However, the truth I have found is that we are meant to marvel. It’s not hard to marvel in Manhattan; it is a city of many beautiful encounters yet we are not made just to marvel at skyscrapers, we are meant to encounter all the little things that fill a crowded city. There’s something about food that doesn’t only sustain us but brings us community. It brings us the anticipation, the satisfaction, and the awe of standing in line at 8am on a crowded Soho street to eat something very good.
It’s the little things that can fill us up with wonder and sometimes it takes great food to make us realize that. And to that I say, let’s wonder on.
This month, my Dad invited me to spend a few days with him in the city while he worked. Therefore, I found myself alone in the city one cool Thursday morning. Our hotel was on Lexington Avenue so I walked a couple of blocks and found myself in one of the prettiest busy corners. The entire trip was a happy blur, but the beginning was such a happy adventure for myself including warm NY bagels (and I quote Wicked when I say I do believe I have been changed for the better) that I happily ate on a walk to Central Park and a successful coffee shop hunt (completed in Ninth Street Espresso). T’was a good morning.
New York is transparent in the spring, when the dead things are paraded with sudden life. The whole city matches the beat of the hearts that it holds.
That’s what I love about the city when it comes down to it. It’s a big bundle of reckless love and longing tucked into five different boroughs.
Manhattan was always like a dream, even before it was real to me. The pure idea of the city was one of wonder. I clearly remember the first time I visited at age 8, crying as we flew away, the skyline in the distance. “I fear I view New York much like a crush,” I remember remarking to a friend one day, “It appears to be this great thing, but I fear eventually it will bring disappointment.”
Yet each time I go and leave, New York has yet to collect dust for me or grow old like a girlhood fantasy. Perhaps it’s the thing I love most; New York is a dusty place. It’s everything in a small distance: you’ve got the financial district, you’ve got the art neighborhoods, you’ve got the bridges that cross to Brooklyn and Queens, and a short distance away you’ve got the different world of Harlem and the Bronx. In New York, you have everyone: the tourists, the immigrants, the soul-seekers, the money gainers, the young and old.
New York, you make me a whole human being in the way that tears me apart the most. Manhattan is still a a dream to me and I have no intention of waking up.