Shot from atop Google New York Headquarters
We walked about 110 km in our nine day summer fling with New York City. It was perilous to our feet but I love walking. It’s not something I did much of in Malaysia, where one car per person is an unwritten policy. It’s also why LA and I remain cordial but not fast friends, because you need a cab to get anywhere which takes the fun out of a midnight run to IHop. NYC was my second time in America but it might as well be a different country to the city of Angels. Every moment here was a movie moment. I mean to say this in spite of my favourite sitcoms being filmed here but I’m fooling no one in my audience. My accent is a mongrel, a crude patch-up job made up of a lifetime of Manglish (Malaysian-English), seven years saying “mate” and “far out” in Sydney but not least was the indeterminable yet highly significant amount of time spent watching American television. Being in New York was like jumping into the TV of my childhood so I could in first person, see the cool cats that linger on fire stairs with a sunset explosion on their back, hear the guy who delivers fresh produce with a jazz song in his heart, taste bagels with
long blacks Americanos and appreciate the Starbucks’ siren as the unofficial ruling monarch. The emoji pizza is real, pepperoni is that big but only here, in America.
Is the passage of time subjective? We all have the same one thousand four hundred and forty minutes in a day but New York burns through it easily, like the Chinese paper money we send to the dead. I can see why it might be for some and not all. I thought I was a true blue city girl, but New York challenges my mental construct of what a city really is. Every single night we fall asleep to one of three sirens, the ambulance, the fire truck or the police. The neon glow of 5th Avenue that cuts through the bottom of our curtain is our night light. This city is like planet Earth juice concentrated with extra pulp. This city pulsates beneath me like every second someone is dying and someone is being born. Physical tiredness is one thing but it’s the mental exhaustion of tuning into so many human beings for the entire waking day that puts us down and deep until the sun rises the next morning.
Could I live here, would I like to live here, I ask you and watch you all ask me. Isn’t this where dreams come to live, am I the Rachel Berry of this show and will it be a comedy or a tragedy? Truth be told my Murakami compass cannot find the calm here because social media distractions are life-sized problems in New York. I want to look at this cute dog on the street but be careful with my bag people are passing and what’s that being written in the sky also Macy’s has 4th of July sales and every hour is happy hour until closing. Every moment in the past nine days has been like playing spot the difference with the nanosecond you saw before you blinked. This city is an ADHD patient’s nightmare. Everything is constantly changing before me and I’d bet my last dollar + 15% tip that it’ll continue to change after me. Walking is fine as a tourist, but to live here I feel like you have to run.
In spite of my misgivings, yet because of them, again who am I kidding. I’m so utterly tired but I’ve never felt this alive. The diversity here runs like a never-ending fountain, my New York bucket list only got longer the more I ticked off, hello there can I be your friend I say to everyone and American cuisine doesn’t exist because it is an amalgamation of every single thing in the world. But perhaps the very best thing about being here and walking here, so much that I walked 68.3508 miles is the begrudging acceptance I receive from said human beings. In a twisted line of reasoning there are so many of us that none of us are special and because none of us are special, we are all one. Contrast this to that one time in Sydney I wore a cheongsam and was treated like a circus freak. In New York City I could probably get away with wearing nothing at all, nothing at all, nothing at all.
Confusion that never stops, the closing walls and ticking clocks. I can’t conceive that this will be the place to grow, the same way a sapling cannot survive basking in a thousand suns. But my dreams have left me to grow up here in New York. When I’m ready I’ll come back and take you home.