“I can’t explain it, it’s just the energy,” I could hear the passion in my best friend’s voice trickling through the receiver. “I swear, you’re gonna love it. You just need to come.”
I’m a college student and I work a minimum wage job but listening to my friend describe New York City was enough to have me pressing “book flight” in a matter of minutes. Come December I would be on a plane destined to the east coast to explore a city that truly never sleeps.
New York City, full of rats, garbage, too much advertising and that subway smell that you can’t quite shake off your clothes. But above all else my friend was right, it’s the energy.
It’s Central Park, and feeling at peace in the middle of a gigantic city.
The energy of running to catch your train, sprinting down the stairs and nearly eating it. People getting out of your way without looking and barely, just barely, making it before the doors slide shut.
It’s walking down the street and stumbling upon a protest, an art show, performers that are way to talented to only be singing out on the street. It’s about dodging acrobats while walking to get your morning coffee.
It’s buying ten dumplings for two dollars in China Town, then immediately buying greasy French fries from a food truck outside of a museum. It’s being able to get every kind of food from every culture in a three block radius.
It’s going to a museum, staring at Egyptian hieroglyphs, thinking about the lives of the people who etched them into stone. Gazing at ancient gemstones welded into sacred headdresses. It’s looking at the dried paint strokes in a piece of art that was finished hundreds of years ago. It’s Van Gogh, Monet. It’s the legends.
It’s the random encounters on the subway. Talking to strangers about your goals, where you’ve been and where you’re from. It’s sharing a moment off intimacy, and then never seeing them again.
While I only inhabited New York City for seven days, it taught me to trust myself on solo subway rides, to explore every crevice, to stay up a little later, and to take a few more risks. I envy those that know New York better than I do, the people who take the subway to work while the sun is rising, know the best place for pho on a Tuesday night and can navigate the city with ease. But I took a little piece of New York with me when I left and the experience will be forever stained in my memory.