Next Stop: NYC

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I had never been to New York City before this year. Everyone always thinks that’s crazy given how many other places I’ve visited, but it’s completely true. I had this strange aversion to NYC before I moved to Korea, but spending seven years as a city-dweller can drastically change one’s perspective. A friend of mine didn’t have to twist my arm very hard to ensure I booked a flight for spring break.

How do you put a place into words when the whole world already has such a glamorous personification in their minds? How do you offer your perspective to the multitudes who already have a set definition of what New York is supposed to be? You probably don’t. You say they should go for themselves and experience it from their unique point of view. You cop out in favor of preserving the wonder you felt walking those chaotic streets, hoping that it’s real and not just a result of living somewhere else.

It’s sad to think I was so tremendously overjoyed by the number of foreign languages I heard, by the need to maneuver sidewalks like I was walking a tightrope, by the exceptional anonymity of public transit, and the truth that I can walk anywhere if I am determined enough. It’s sad because I’ve gone so long without those very simple things. I have lived in suburbia where every moment I step outside, the pace of comfort slows me down, makes me think this is good enough, this is fine, this is what I’m supposed to want.

I don’t want that, and I never have. I want the chaos. I want to rub shoulders with the world. I want to be a stranger in a train full of people with vastly different stories I may never know. I want to see how much living I can squeeze into a building that’s sandwiched between alleyways and taxicabs. I want to watch the rush of people consumed by the passing of time. I crave the heartbeat of the city, the breath that comes out in bursts of air as the subway pulses below, the electric hum of the streetlights, and the realization that your own insignificance frees you from all expectations and you finally begin to live.

That is my New York.

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