Tag Archives: New York

I cannot remain silent

23 Nov

I have a friend who works at Fox news, and we have frequently been in long conversations about the state of The United States. In many ways we are aligned, but in so many ways we stand on opposite sides, and it’s friends like him that make me want to be silent.

For he is symbolic of many people that I care about and love; people who I would never want to alienate in any way. And while privately, him and I can hear one another out, I know that when you put your voice out there, in the public, when you choose a side, not everyone will stand with you.

However, I have decided that I cannot remain silent and observe the heart of our nation being broken – for that is what is happening. We are splitting in two, and it is ugly.

Every day I ride the C train and transfer to the A – the train that, in a recent interview, Lin Manuel Miranda said when casting Hamilton he wanted it to, “”look like what you see when you get on the A train to go to work.”

The train is all colors and all languages. It’s crowded, uncomfortable, and every day I witness beautiful moments. People of different races, and classes, existing together, moving through the city, and dealing with one another.

The homeless quartet whose harmony was so unbelievable I thought they were lip-singing to a recording; the corporate-looking ,frat-dude who was the only person to hand money out to the clearly disturbed, deaf, beggar; the elderly man who offered a pregnant woman his seat; the young black girls sharing their man problems and the elderly white lady turning to me, saying, “getting old isn’t so bad,” while smiling at them.

These moments warm my heart because it’s why I chose to come back to the U.S. after years of traveling; it’s why I chose to live in New York. To be all together, standing there, all just trying to get where we want to go.

And, I cannot be silent while I watch the underbelly of hatred bubble up and blanket our nation.

I know it was there before; that our country was built on slavery; that racism and sexism have been threaded throughout every iteration of our government, but something has broken open. It’s being released and is poisoning our air.

It is all of the anger and fear that we have been carrying. It’s people whose insurance premiums have been too high, whose jobs have been lost. It’s small businesses who are being broken by their taxes, it is those who feel like what they believe in, “their America,” has been stolen from them.

It is the inability to relate – it is the image of a plane flying into a building. It is looking at the, “other,” while gripping onto whatever you got, screaming “don’t take this from me.” It is the hand reaching out, grabbing, and saying, “and that’s mine too.”

It is the digital revolution that has stormed into our cities and broken down our every system, so that even our communication has changed – for who talks to each other anymore?

It is egoism, it is feeling wronged, it is sexism, it is everything that sits within the shadows that we all carry and we cannot let those those win.

And, I don’t believe they can. For in every story there is always a time of darkness, a time when the demons and devils rise – when hell is not a concept but a reality, and all hope seems lost.

The fight seems endless, the light far, and yet, it is in the breaking open, the other side, at the end of the tunnel, when the light hits your eyes so bright that it blinds you.

So, friends, loved ones, I will keep talking, and standing for the light – and I will never go silent, until I am extinguished, for I am not afraid of the dark.

There’s still magic to be found

12 Nov

I don’t know what to say and most I know feel the same way. Some of us are silent, others are shouting, and most everyone is afraid. My Trump friends are elated, my Hillary friends are so angry their eyes are turning red, and the city of New York is openly weeping.

On Wednesday, I felt fear when I left work, and the streets were lined with police and protestors, and I felt the hum of violence in the air.

I don’t like being political because politics can be so petty. Two people, two parties, shouting at one another, trying to convince others to vote for them. As a student of history, as a Yogi, as a peace-believer and love-maker, this feels wrong to me; that when there are two sides the only result is a split, a divide that strikes through our systems in irreparable ways.

This goes against what I believe about people; that what sits within us is not so different no matter the nation or nationality. This belief was born when I went to Spain for the first time, at sixteen, and I stood on a beach with people from Italy, China, Switzerland and the US, and we were all teenagers who wanted to be liked – who wanted to explore, be kissed, to dance, get drunk and run the streets of the small town that we were visiting.

Some of us were more privileged than others, some of us more educated, some had happy families and others not so much, but in my heart I knew that we all strove for a similar thing – for the right to seek our happiness, the pursuit of it, no matter what it looked like on the outside; that was our youthful, motivating factor.

I have sat in shacks in Ecuador with families of 12, with 14 year old mothers, and I have stayed with friends in Colombia whose brothers were stabbed by gang members. I have spent days on farms in Bolivia, and  on small, impoverished islands where there are no options other than the sea. I have bused through Nicaraguan towns, and I have biked through the English countryside where I was the first American that some of the villagers had met.

I have lived in Illinois, Indiana, California, Colorado and New York – I have been both red and blue, and I  have always come to the same conclusion. That the ability to live a simple, peaceful life is the greatest gift of all. That fear is our greatest monster, and it’s one we cannot escape, and that people say they want, “change,” but to transform, to shift into a different way of being is never easy –  and is rarely peaceful.

That empathy is the alchemy to the world’s shadows, and so I will never stop listening, and traveling, and reading, and hearing both sides because I know beneath it all I am not so different from the other.

So friends, let us not fight hate with hate; let us not fall into despair because love does win, even the darkness. It’s the light inside of us and when it is ignited, we can let other’s ugliness enter it and they, too, will be warmed by our way of being – for there is still magic in this world.

On Wednesday, to soothe myself, I popped into my local bookstore because it’s the way that bookstores are supposed to be: warm, welcoming and well-lit. Unexpectedly, there was a famous female poet performing. She was speaking to the experience of womanhood, and when I looked into the audience I saw men, women and people of all colors, snapping their fingers, being moved by her words – funny, furious, violent and healing.

And I thought, no matter what anyone tells me, now, or in the future, if they say, “go back to where you came from,” I will smile and say, “okay,” because I’ll know that I am home.

 

 

 

I’m back, at the page, and it feels good

4 Aug

I walk through the streets of New York and feel the throbbing energy pulsate up through my feet, and I smile, like a never-ending summer; like the melting heat that I can smell, and I know I’m in love.

It’s a ripping kind of love, an earned love – it’s not easy or quiet. In fact, it never shuts up.

People don’t stop talking here, and we all can hear each other. There isn’t enough space for our words to breath, so we’re all on top of one another, complaining, but we love it.

In English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Hindi and Portuguese, we’re all here standing together on the goddamn subway – stuck underground. Eventually, though, we all emerge, streaming out into the streets, bumping into one another as we rush to our next destination.

Having lived in Illinois, Indiana, California, Colorado and New York – I am keenly aware of the different styles of living that each city and state possess. And, I’m aware how each environment both attracts a certain kind of person and shapes their perspective.

And, a fierce rooted love lights up in my heart for New York because there is a sliver of space for me to be all that I am – and, if one is willing, there is room for you too.

And I think, “Isn’t this the kind of country that we want to live in?” one that believes there is room for everyone even if we’re straining against the seams?” A country that believes we can get a little closer, squeeze together, to make more room for another soul who has the right to, “pursue their own happiness,” and whatever that looks like for them?

It is in the arid expanses of space, conforming and white-washed, that we can forget all that exists outside our own environment and perspective; we can forget that a tapestry’s beauty lives in the varied colors that are woven together.

But, I get it. I get it more than I say – and I haven’t said much, as of late. There was a silence that descended upon me after my Dad died – the words left me, and all I could think about was, “move forward.”

I had nothing then: jobless, homeless with a few thousand dollars to my name. It was January and bitter cold. There were no travels ahead, only an entire life to rebuild, and the determination to do it.

Now, a year and half later I can revisit the page, and in doing so, I’d like to champion communication, I’d like to champion bridges – not walls.

We are scared, and we have every right to be. We are divided and that makes sense to me. I don’t comment on politics because I have seen so many different perspectives – I have lived in them.

I have sat in small towns in Indiana and listened to the reasoning, I have heard spur-clad cowboys in Colorado, and I put my face to the sun in Dolores Park, in San Francisco, and heard from people all over the world commenting on our nation.

But, at the end of the day for me it is New York, it is the subway – the most efficient and obnoxious form of transportation. The great equalizer.

It is the brown child laying it’s head on what I believe to be its Mother, it’s the French couple discussing things I cannot understand, and it’s the Asian schoolchildren, giggling, and that white guy staring into his phone.

America is a dream – one made from Utopia, and for those who don’t know what that means it’s nowhere.

But, don’t we need to believe in what we cannot see; that can potentially not exist? Don’t we need to believe that we can leave our childhood homes with almost nothing to recreate our lives? Isn’t that what is “great” about the “United States,” that we, at times, have provided space for people to come onto our shores with a few dollars and a dream and believe that they can make something better for themselves – which can benefit the country as a whole?

Isn’t that the true spirit of being an entrepreneur? How can I approach this in a new way? How can I make possible something that doesn’t yet exist?

Creation is not a solitary act – bringing any being into life takes two people, two perspectives, and that is just a beginning.

The ending is where we stand alone. This I’ve seen. I watched my Dad take his last breath, and I wasn’t with him; he was by himself somewhere, a place that I might see myself one day.

That is the fear – that is the uncertainty. That is why I run down the street, knocking into others because, “I’m not going to let anyone else steal my cab,” that is the nature of the beast, and that is why I love New York.

It is a place for beasts and for compassion – the dual sides of our nature is wrapped around every mode of living. The man who carries the homeless woman’s walker up the stairs, and the person, slamming their hands down, screaming at a car, as if it will respond.

But, I don’t want to live in the screaming. Make space for it? Yes. But, I’d like to believe that at the end of the day, most of us want to be the person who’s carrying that disabled, impoverished woman’s walker up those fucking stairs.

Emerging, into the cloudless, August day – knowing that intangible, idealistic myths are the very story of creation.

A being of energy, of light, some all-powering God, spent seven days making this earth – and then we bit the Apple, we are the creation and the Fall.

(Wo)man will always bite the apple, and that’s okay – so there’s no need to reach for that tempting snake who promises you a paradise that you already live in.

The subway will arrive eventually, though never on time. And, all of us, standing together, fighting for our square to stand in will both smile at one another and push each other out of the way, struggling, hurrying, reaching towards our next destination – which ultimately will end up being our last one.

So, maybe, let’s slow down, and take some time to get there. Let’s make space for our different perspectives and modes of being – let’s create in a way that serves us. Let us believe that we have the courage to go off, with very little, and make much of it.

Today in New York

22 Mar

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.