I was heading towards the City around sunset yesterday. My old hometown and past life was behind me. Ahead of me was the life I have now and the island of Manhattan. I have always had a connection with my City. And she has allowed this bond—the City, I mean.
The traffic was more than mild but not too bad. There she was, my City. I could see her from the distance. And there they were; the buildings and the tall spires that poke the clouds like needles in the sky. The backdrop behind my City was the colors of sunset, which to me; this is a representation of the autumn months that are about to come.
It is a new time for me. I am still here and still living in the same body. I have the same challenges but yet, I am on the verge of new beginnings. I am facing new conquests. I can say goodbye to the summer. I can say goodbye to my old self. I can say goodbye to the old maneuvers and welcome my ideas of a new destination.
(Makes sense, right?)
I have to see it this way. I have to think forward instead of behind; otherwise, I find myself on the other side of the equation. I have to create a sense of forward thinking; otherwise, at best, I will only face new setbacks that are linked to my old letdowns. Do you see what I mean here? We all have a fixation bias. This means the direction we face is the direction we head towards—and rather than look away (if we don’t want to go) or rather than steer away, our cognitive bias leads us into the dilemmas instead of taking us away.
We move in patterns. We are trained this way, since birth. We see things and we have our predetermined opinions. We have our trained assumptions—we judge and we interpret, and yet what are we looking at anyway? Isn’t life new every day? But yet, we have such a strong connection to the emotions from our past that we fail to realize today is new. Yesterday is gone and nobody lives there anymore.
Yesterday was a long day for my Country. We honored a moment in our history and with sadness; I mourned. I thought, but more, I hope this history never repeats itself.
I was driving on the Grand Central Parkway, which leads towards my City. I have seen this place through its ups and downs. Or should I say this differently?
Yes, I think I should.
Perhaps, it would be more accurate to say the City has seen me through my ups and downs. She has seen me through desperate times. She has seen me through hard times. And yet, she has seen me through good times.
I have had my share of the black tie affairs. I’ve seen the high-life and the bright lights and the penthouse views and rooftop venues. I have seen the ball drop at Times Square. I’ve celebrated in the streets and in some of the hotels. I’ve been to places like Stingy LuLu’s or Brother Jimmy’s. I’ve been to Polyester’s, The Limelight, The Tunnel, Emerald City, The Red Zone and Webster Hall. I have spent my time on the Downtown cobblestone streets and been to spots at Astor Place. I’ve had breakfasts here, lunches and dinners, dressed in my best; and yet, I have found myself equally comfortable in jeans and a tee-shirt, with my blue Converse sneakers (my Chuck Taylor’s, the low-tops, of course) and standing with my feet off the curb. I’d be fine with a hot dog in hand by Columbus Circle and watch the people as they pass me by.
This City has seen me through it all; and yet, she stands in perfect anonymity—hushing my secrets and dreams and keeping them in the warmth of her bosom. I can be anything here. Or I can be nothing here. Either way, the City abides. The rest is up to me.
Her streets are paved with secrets, which are trampled into the pavement. Her skyscrapers were built by the voices of our history. The skyline has changed and the addresses look different to me now. Her spires and peaks and her buildings have been updated. In some cases, a few of her buildings were demolished and rebuilt into new constructions. The City has always been a safe haven to me—even in the dangerous parts or during the dangerous times; the City has always been good to me.
She knew about my dark times. She knew about my long walks and bouts with indecision. She knew about my fascination with the playhouses—and one of them in particular, which is at 40th Street. She knew about this too.
I say this because there was a show here. I used to pass by with the hopes and ideas. I used to think about the creator of the show who died before his show’s opening night. I’d see this and swear that I don’t ever want this to be me. I don’t ever want to miss the night where the curtain raises, and there i am, on center stage, about to pull off my trick.
I remember the sign that I used to see in Long Island City that read, “Perfection is not an accident.” I used to see this when I would head over the 59th Street Bridge. This is when I used to come in from the east side. But I rarely come from the east side anymore. Most days I come from the West. I head over the George Washington Bridge at least six days a week. I see the Hudson. I’ve seen this in the moonlight and the daylight and in hindsight, I have seen every angle of my City. And still, I have never seen anything so resilient in all of my life. This is her, my City. Still standing.
She is a survivor, which is what I want to be. I was there. I watched her take the ultimate punishment, and yet, she still stands. She stands and the world still trembles. But not me. I won’t tremble. And not her. Not anymore.
There will come a day when I am old and facing the sunset of my existence. When this comes, I will say that I have been with the princes and the bums—I have seen royalty and met princesses and debutantes; and at the same time, I have seen the hookers, and high-heeled phenoms that walked the night. I can say that I have seen the high-life and the low-life and I have lived a thousand times or maybe even more; all because of this place, my City.
I love her so much.
And she knows exactly why too. She knows my truths but she’ll never tell; at least not while the sun is still shining.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to SoHo.
I think I need to make a date downtown again.
Maybe I’ll stop by the buildings where the souls are laid to rest.
I’ll send my respects and then I’ll toss my dreams to the sky and say:
“Don’t worry. Your prince is still here.”