“I like people quite well
at a little distance.
I like to see them passing and passing
and going their own way,
especially if I see their aloneness alive in them.
Yet I don’t want them to come near.
If they will only leave me alone
I can still have the illusion that there is room enough
in the world.”
D.H. Lawrence // People
It was nothing more than a relentless series of steps leading to the same unfulfilled vault of corrosion. It was cruel, and you couldn’t help but feel deteriorated and isolated, like being stuck in a bad dream; the kind of nightmare that abandoned you underground or underwater, leaving you unable to breathe, forcing you under a relentless current, fighting for survival. Like sitting at a marbled corner table in the back of some unknown, downstairs hip-hop club in the Lower East Side on a Sunday night, taking breaks between your whiskey and conversation to do a few lines of blow in the unmarked shared bathroom, sniffing your way through the rest of the night and early morning. It was the sound of footsteps on a cold winter evening as the brisk air made marks on your face while a stranger clattered behind you against the piss-stained pavement, leaving you constantly looking over your shoulder; always anxiously awaiting your great demise.
It was relentless, slapping you with the cold from a strangers gaze across the subway car, or hugging you on a hot, sweaty, unbearably sticky summer day. Young mothers in their apartments, crying over the stove top while listening to an Alicia Keys song, casual millennial drug dealers selling marijuana to afford their drinking habit, Parisian college students crowding around NoLita cafes whispering murmurs of desired career paths and brighter futures, Bushwick-based bands playing to an unimpressed and over-flanneled crowd. Everyone was in search of a better tomorrow, while simultaneously and desperately running from their past. Hiding from it; using the city to shield who they once were, and swore they would never be again.
It wasn’t for the weak, and through its constant clobbering of regression and pain, the insurmountable doubt-filled nights, and relentless cold sweats that arose from all too familiar nightmares, it somehow persisted in making you stronger all the while.
They all teetered uncomfortably between living out the best dream they could ever fathom, and their darkest nightmare, one day accepting the city in all its glory, and the next day, impatiently waiting for the tragic ending, through it all thinking to themselves “I’m in New York … another day in New York City.” Whether the city knocked them down and dragged them out, or assisted in the realization that they had excelled in ways that others couldn’t dare to imagine, one thing was certain, day after day the subway cars would continue to squeak as they rushed throughout the cities’ boroughs, the lights of the skyline scattered buildings would continue to twinkle, both blinding and captivating the casual onlooker during a drunken Uber ride back to their apartment and drowning them in an incomparable bliss; the Statue of Liberty would continue to stand tall and proud in the distance, screaming to all those that looked upon her, for the love of God let freedom ring.
They were all addicted to its madness, and its glory. Its depth and its sorrow. For, no place could bring you down and pick you up so quickly, so profoundly, as New York City. There wasn’t a high or a come down more fulfilling than that; no drug even came close. They were all addicted to its pain and its pleasure, and while the city never noticed one way or the other, those who had a moment’s time to live amongst its glory would never be the same.