I went for a run the other day and looked back on the NYC skyline to my right and the coast of the water to the left and I felt the hairs on my arm stand up. Sometimes New York just takes my breath away.
I know that to a lot of people New York is just any other metropolitan city. They find it too stressful or busy or expensive. To me, it’s my Mecca and what I’ve dreamed of for a long, long time.
You see traveling from the suburbs of Houston to Shanghai, China throughout my childhood taught me what I liked and what I didn’t. I would spend my summers in Shanghai being immersed in another culture and going to museums, shows, restaurants with different cuisines and watched people from all walks of life live and fly back to my quaint suburb where Mexican food was considered exotic and the only cuisine people knew about it. In Shanghai, I learned to empathize and be grateful for the life I lived and to try to give back and in my suburb I saw people ostracizing others for not knowing English.
I went to a school that wasn’t very diverse economically or racially. Anyone that was a minority was usually lower income, considered nerdy and uncool, or didn’t speak English. Basically, you ruled the world if you were a Caucasian and middle class or up. And even the middle class thought they were kings. If I ate anything foreign at lunch, it wasn’t as cool as Lunchables even though Lunchables = technically trash food. Going to museums was lame. Going to every football game, even though we lost every one, was cool. I was president of the math club but also a "standleader" (aka sort of like a cheerleader but you didn’t have to have any physical prowess). I saw that the state ranked math club got $0 budget and rode to competitions in worn-out buses while the “prestigious” standleaders got booked luxury stagecoaches to transport us 5 miles to the next stadium where we would lose the game ultimately. (Note: Matt Bomer was a standleader so I guess that’s cool).
I wasn’t inspired. In fact, I was the opposite. I would spend all my free time writing and dreaming about going to a liberal arts college discussing philosophy or culture til 2 am (yes...these were my “dreams”...) and when my classmates commended me for being a "cool Asian" rather than a nerd Asian, I felt weird. The only reason I was "cool" was because I was Americanized and that was because my mom happened to marry my dad, an Italian/German. That had nothing to do with me and was not a personal choice.
Needless to say, once I left that suburb, I never felt happier although I did miss my family.
Afterward, I never felt like I belonged in the rest of Texas either. I didn’t care about football (this time on a national level) and didn’t care about Greek life (although I did join). Texas is still very much a blonde cheerleaders dream and I’m not that. We don’t have the world's best museums and we’re lucky if Hamilton ever adds us to their tour simply because other cities have higher demand. Nothing I was interested in was in Texas.
Before I moved to New York I flew to Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles again to see which city I could see myself living in and nothing ever felt right like New York. I’m not sure why but it just feels like home and every day I’m grateful that I get to live here.
I want a jungle where you have everything in the world thrown together in a pot giving you options to do whatever you want. I want the streets to move fast and I’d rather have too much going on than too little. I also happen to not care much for nature (hiking gets boring for me after 10 minutes). For me it’s like the universe sprinkled all of my interests into me, and also into New York.
PS: There are a lot of negative things about NYC which I will address in a separate post. But there’s pros and cons to every thing place and person.