In generosity or spite, New York has stretched these past three years of my life into an ample seven – and I wear the wrinkles and wounds to prove it.
In retrospect, my cross-country relocation from San Francisco to New York feels no more dramatic a change in environment and culture than Chinatown to Wall Street, Chelsea to Harlem. I've lived in 7 different neighborhoods across Manhattan and Brooklyn since I landed here on a sticky summer night in 2014. Look close enough and you can trace the route: countless reinventions of wardrobes, a handful of lovers until one stuck, friendships that swelled (then drifted), and a constellation of tattoos pinning me down to the moments and places I won't let myself forget.
It's not necessarily that I was running away from anything. With a brutal housing market and employment opportunities that come and go with the breeze, life in New York lends itself to this kind of transience: a constant reinvention of the self, perfectly suited for the erratic early-twenties soul more fearful of familiarity than of what might come next.
During my year-long stay on the south tip of Manhattan, not a single lick of sunshine ever touched my apartment. With a second floor apartment facing a narrow alleyway, I woke up and fell asleep to a view of my neighbors blinds, tinted with the whatever faint grey light managed to trickle down between the wall of skyscrapers above. It's hardly an exaggeration to say that I grew pale in body and spirit.
These days, I wake up to soft sunlight filtering in through the canopy of trees that line my street.
In late October, I moved from my Wall Street apartment – that is, Wall Street proper, with the Trump building casting a long shadow on my building that blackened deeper every day – to Washington Heights, a working-class Dominican neighborhood standing as the last great battlefield against gentrification in New York City. I traded cement skyscrapers for 5-story red brick apartments, streetlights for trees, and the stale scent of oil and exhaust for roasted pork, sweet grass, and dog shit.
A lot on my mind has to do with the implicit and complicit nature of being who I am – light skinned, english speaking, salaried – in a neighborhood like this.
The housing market in New York is nobody's friend, but I feel a definite karmic imbalance by penny pinching rent. I could afford to live in a different building, a different neighborhood – and it's not the first time I've lent a hand to the systemic machinations that price out low income families from their homes (my 5th floor walk up in Chinatown comes to mind). So I'll carry the guilt on my back and do my best to exist responsibly: lunch at the Salvadorian pupuseria, and groceries from the bodega on the corner – all with a smile and a wave.
I spent a lot of time with my friend this month! I'm grateful for that.
It's 4 long years, bouncing between California and New York (and back again). For richer or poorer, in sickness and in our rare moments of health. She's the most loving person I have in my life, and in a city like this, I don't know what I would do without her. The Thanksgiving we spent together this year was one of the best I've ever had.
My friend rescued a puppy displaced from the hurricanes in Texas!
Important details: his name is Rivington, and he's absolutely perfect. I spent some time pet-sitting him in Williamsburg this month and it felt wonderful. My puppy-paternal clock is ticking louder than ever these days, but for now I'm content with being the uncle.
It was my boyfriend's birthday earlier this month!
I bought him a violin, took him to our favorite spot in Harlem, got too drunk on nice wine, and fell asleep in the theater watching Blade Runner 2. It's hard to believe that we've been together – on and off – for almost three years. I feel very lucky.
Digital strategist, writer, and image maker based in Manhattan working with clients in the tech and entertainment industry.