my first time visiting new york was with my parents; we did the cliche sight seeing activities, went to the popular delis. the last day of our stay, i knew, much like I can assume a heroin addict does, that i'd be back for more.
upon my acceptance to Fordham University, my mother urged for me to take self defense classes. i defiantly declined her wish; deep down i knew if there was someone/thing that wanted to kick the shit out of me, I'm 5'1'' for fuck's sake, it wouldn't be difficult even if I was taught how to properly throw a punch.
I arrived at the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University on August 26th, 2001. There were the orientations, the adjustment of living with a shit load of other 18 year olds all in one place, and showers in which you needed flip flops. Two days after being dropped off, some of us on the second floor of North headed into the city in search of fake id's. This is what is deemed a bonding experience. About 15 yards into our walk up Fordham Road (which is two say, like, two feet from campus) we noticed a man jerking off into a fence. In broad daylight. If I didn't realize I was in New York before, I can assure you, I knew at that moment I wasn't in quaint little Marblehead any longer. Like, he was just going at it, and an NYPD cruiser was parked not 20 feet from the dude. We laughed, blushed and continued on our trek in search of something that would make us seem older. Little did we know, 14 days from then we'd be more jaded than we could have ever hoped for.
The morning of September 11th, 2001, I was running late to my sociology class--so I didn't bother taking a shower, I'd take one later. I got dressed and darted down my dorm hall, only to realize that each room was open, and I could hear audible sobs. I heard a very loud boisterous jersey girl screaming WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE, FUCKING TOWEL HEADS! YOU CANT ATTACK THIS CITY! again, i was stunned and dazed, and realized upon entering a neighbors room, that the World Trade Center tower was attacked by a plane.
Still in disbelief, I rushed to my class, but realized people were walking around in a fog, as if they were headless chickens. Of course, classes were suspended, and students and professors alike huddled around televisions, and we could hear sirens all over.
Some ROTC kids walked down to Ground Zero (about 16 miles) while we all tried to contact our families. about 3 or 4 hours after the planes hit the towers, i was able to reach my house. my mother answered and heard my voice and instantly started wailing my baby my baby! that was the only time i got choked up that day. I couldn't really cry when there was so much devastation surrounding me; I felt I didn't have the right.
That day lasted forever. It was that day that cemented my true unfaltering love and faithfulness to New York City. The following 4 years i dedicated my life, attention and time to my love. I felt being in New York was my destiny.
The time I spent in the City became the most formative years of my life. I learned about the human spirit. I discovered true work ethic. I honed the fine skill of flirtation. I learned the difference between local and express. I (along with my friends) befriended happy hour. I embraced the city, with all it's color, desperation and luxury--I had internships with some amazing companies, met some wonderful people and not so wonderful people. I learned to take cat naps on the subway, to avoid patches of sidewalk with bird shit on them. I worked for one day in a deli. in heels. i heard different languages every day. i wrote papers. i slammed my hand on the hood of a taxi cab and yelled at the driver. i saw the dali lama in central park. i kissed strangers. i was a nanny. i witnessed complete sadness and complete beauty. i learned the difference between cheap wine and good wine. i fell asleep in a bed facing the empire state building. i saw the red sox beat the yankees. i saw priceless works of art for ten cents. i have stood in central park and felt summer breezes shift into autumn winds. i understood how to appreciate my hometown and the smell of the ocean. I split hummus sandwiches with Bonnie cause we were broke. I then stole bread to fill our stomachs, only to have the bread bounced out of my hand by Bonnie's excitement at seeing a purse. I snuck into Tompkins Square park with some TV guys I worked with to smoke a joint with beers and watch the sun rise. the thrill of getting ready for a night out was better than going out itself. i got bit in the ass by a pit bull. i walked home in the wee hours of the morning to smell the fresh bread being delivered in the Bronx. everything i experienced became part of my dna. i became part of new york, and it became part of me.
New York. The thrill of everything it represents doesn't even compare to the feeling you have when you're in the actual city. Stop. Go. Walk. Laugh. Breathe. Drink. Gasp. Listen. Yell. Silence. Light. Dark. Hope. Desperation. Wealth. Poverty.Fear. Hope. Hate. Love.
Who I am now is different from what I was ten years ago. The thing that will remain the same is the ache I have in my heart for New York; that's the thing about first loves; they never go away. They remain in your heart forever as an ember silently burning. Today, I'm a New Yorker. We all are.