Visiting an Old Home

Walking the streets of the cities you used to live and frequent, is a comforting and humbling process.  I’m currently on a several week trip in the United States stopping in numerous cities, but I’ve briefly paused in New York City.  I lived in New York for two years, but never felt it was long enough to be a New Yorker.  Perhaps it’s because the vastness this area holds.  It envelops you, and two years is not long enough to properly know a city like this.  All I feel like I could properly know was a two block radius, which included my favorite Thai takeout shop, Greek restaurant, pizzeria, and local café.  Although I didn’t feel it ever was truly my neighborhood, I can have pride for my time I spent on Grand Street in Williamsburg and my pocket of warmth when I lived in Hell’s Kitchen on 49th between 9th and 10th.  

As I watch young twenty-somethings on the subway, I look at them with curiosity and hope.  I wonder if I gaze long enough if I will spot hints of the old me in them, the one that lived here fourteen years ago.  I watch the locals who navigate the land promptly, smartly, and with determination.  Does that me still exist?  Most of the time their eyes are stuck to their phones, texting, scrolling, or watching shows on their commutes.  In the close quarters of a subway car, with limited personal space, their mental focus zones to the screen in front of them.   Times have changed since I lived here, but perhaps this is why I didn’t fit in.

Part of me yearned to slow down when I walked.  I wanted to spend more time in the parks than in the high rises or gritty hipster streets.  What pulled me to New York when I was younger was the artistic life I longed for, but I had to work double hard to survive and pay rent when I was here. There was minimal time that existed for my creativity.  Who I wanted to be and who I was couldn’t mesh while I existed here.  But each time I come back, I can appreciate how the city twists and molds to the residents that breathe here at this time.  There’s beauty in the malleability, which simultaneously can hold history, maybe even a momentary imprint of me. 

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