Sometimes I just feel the rhythm of this city – the energy that swells up from beneath the layers of concrete. It throbs through me, and echoes out of all of the layers of myself; all the Samanthas piled up on top of each other.
People ask me, “Where are you from?” all the time, especially since I’m new to this filthy, rat-infested, glorious, crumbling empire. I feel that; that I choose to move here and watch it all fall, but I know that it’s already fallen.
“I don’t know where I’m from,” I say because I’m not from anywhere. I’m a culmination of all of my experiences, of all things forgotten and remembered.
Sometimes I sift through my memories, like pages of a book that I cannot put down. I am terrified of forgetting and know it’s the inevitable conclusion.
But my experiences are my most precious possessions – the shining jewels of my mind. People don’t realize that when they tell me I have a good memory I shine brighter than when I’m told I’m beautiful.
I don’t care about being beautiful, really. But, when I look at my aging face I know that I am lying to myself. That my life will change as my body changes because people will respond to me differently.
And who I am if I am not pursued and shouted at? Who am I when I no longer look like the person that is recognizable to me?
And yet, when the young waitress, whose beauty is so obviously flourishing, serves me my glass of white wine, I don’t envy her.
She is too fresh, too ignorant – her beauty is in the blossoming and not in the experience; her beauty is a shiny shell and not the nooks and cracks – the marks that chaos leaves behind.
And what is beauty anyway? I have seen so many different types and faces, and when I sit across the table and ask two woman of color if they have a difficult time dating, their response is, “”yes, thank you for asking.”
Asking is my pleasure, as is knowing others, or, “the other.” The unseen city, the yet-to-be climbed hill, the person I haven’t yet met.
This is what I love about New York, it’s a city of extroverts, of people constantly wanting to tell something to the other because we’re all standing so close together. Piled up in so tight that it can be stifling. Elbows are bumped, drinks are spilled, and apologies are rarely made – there is no room.
The mountainous, sea-smelling spaciousness of other places that I have lived reminds me how I didn’t fit because no one had the need to talk or listen. No one wanted to scream out their story to me – people had too much room to, “journey.” Here people need to cut through to make space.
And sometimes I feel my joy radiate out of me like an incandescent light that others smell – I strut down the streets, smaller than most, and yet, still noticed. At other times I feel so lonely that I can’t get out of bed, feel that I’m trapped in, weighed down by all of my unshared experiences.
I’ve been so loved by so many people, but never really loved; never had a man (or woman, for that matter) want to spend the rest of their life with me.
I know it’s me – I’m the common denominator. I keep people at arms length or throw myself into and/or against things. The thought of truly giving myself to another horrifies me but so does my ever-abundant freedom.
A friend of mine told me I was looking for the perfect partner, but aren’t we all? Aren’t we all looking for that puzzle piece that just naturally clicks itself in, forming a greater picture, making a single soul larger with it’s connection?
Maybe God is my soulmate – maybe I am just a child of the world, the universe because the only thing that I’ve been in love with these past two years is life.
I’ve looked up at the sky, on a boat in Bolivia, floating along a lake were sea meets sky because its 3,812 meters high. I felt the sky’s nearness. I wanted to take my fingers and poke them through the scattered clouds that were hanging above; to swing across that lake with clouds in my hands.
My heart was so full – the richness and luck of my life so apparent; time and time again, I looked up and whispered, “thank you.”
And when I stride down the streets of New York, on my way to a meeting, an opportunity, a date, and I feel the millions of people who are also going somewhere, I believe that I can do anything. That putting myself out there into the world is an accomplishment; that I am here because I am willing to push forward, persistently, toward the image of Self that I hold in my mind.
That unattainable Perfect image that isn’t real; that is a mirage in the distance, the person we all believe ourselves to be if we were just a little bit more or less of something.
I hear the hustle outside my window, steaming out with sound, and I look to the handsome man sitting next to me, and I pretend that knocking over my coffee is an accident.
He turns towards me, offering one of the napkins piled high on his table, and our fingers brush, just for an instant.
It is in that instant that I lower my eyes, and then quickly look up. My hazel meeting his blue, and I breathlessly say, “thanks and what is your name?”
Beginning again what I’ve done before, and will do again, in cycles, one piling on top of the other, seeking out and writing all of life’s unwritten chapters, and here in New York with it’s abundant stories, ferocious underbelly, with it’s bloody gorgeous rhythm that rips people apart is where I will dwell, for now, as I write my endless, infinite chapters.