In New York City, you are alone but not lonely. You are no one and someone at the same time. People describe the City as a place with “energy.” It’s where you cultivate power and confidence, because without the two, you wouldn’t survive.
Last weekend, I flew into EWR and rode NJ Transit into Penn Station. I quickly rolled my carry on luggage five blocks to a rented one-room studio a few blocks North of Chelsea. In true NY fashion, the minuscule studio was situated in a five-floor walk up. The space was about 250-300 square feet but still spacious compared to a typical New York City hotel room. The interior was remodeled but the building was far from new. Even with the door closed, I could hear the neighbor’s TV set blaring foreign news. As I locked up the studio to leave for the night, the faint smell of cigarettes lingered in the hallway. Despite the flaws, it was my safe haven for the weekend.
My weekend plan was to catch up with a few friends but the goal for me was to spend quality time…alone. I wanted to be untethered and flexible. I’ve had a rough month of August and needed this time to re-energize myself.
The balmy September weather created opportunities for me to sit in mini-parks located near major Avenues. I watched impeccably tailored men, manicured women, well groomed dogs, cabs whiz by. Bus exhaust circled the air and sometimes I could hear sirens in the distance. These sights, smells and sounds were adrenaline for my soul. As I sat taking in the September sun, I felt excited and hopeful about life.
I walked for hours throughout the weekend. No subways, buses or cabs for me. I made a conscious effort to just go with it…so I ebbed and flowed with the foot traffic, heard some cat calls and stifled a laugh. When I felt like it, I stopped into cafes and restaurants. Once settled into a cafe, I looked out onto the sidewalk and watched people, frantically texting and speed walking to their next destination. It was a treat for me to sit and be in the moment, as the world outside raced. I focused on taking deep breaths and inhaled the scent of roasted coffee beans.
For the first time in a long time, I thought about transitions. I didn’t multitask. I tried to complete one activity before moving onto another. As I sat still, I captured the City’s beauty with my eyes, and sometimes, depending on the mood, through my camera.
My excursions to NYC usually ends up with me returning with new outfits and accessories. Rather than going home with a suitcase stuffed with clothes, this time I took away something less tangible yet more valuable.
The City’s DNA is built on its inhabitants’ dreams and tenacity. I took away a piece of NYC’s energy. The energy to stay hopeful and continue pursuing my dreams.
The only purchase from this trip was this photo, which reminds me that I should never give up on me.