Gotham Memories | Lonely In The City

7:00 AM


When I think back to my time in New York, I remember the bitter and the sweet. There were times when I loved the city, those moments when my expectations were met or exceeded. Then there were times when I was lost in the mundane, when each day melted into the next and they all melted into this blob of time.

This series of posts are about remembering the great times and finding the lesson in the not so great times. The thing is I still love the city, I plan to return to do all the things I wanted to do and never did like taking part in an open mic at the Nuyorican or spending a day visiting galleries. Sometimes, it never seems like I ever have enough time when I'm in NYC. Hopefully, in the near future I will make time.

To start this series, I'll go back to my early months at FIT.

Every now and then, I would be asked if I ever felt lonely living alone and I always answered "no". Thinking back, I've always been accustomed to being on my own. I remember many times playing by myself. When I had surgery on my back, I had my own room in the beginning and the times I had shared a room, the patients did not stay long or I was drugged to the point where I wasn't aware of them.

There were even times when I would be alone in a crowd. By the time I reached FIT, I had developed into being a loner. In part because of low self-esteem and in part because I didn't trust that people would want to hang out with me. As this was the case, I did a lot of things alone.

The first time I went to the movies in NYC as a college student, I went to a theater close to Time Square. I went to see the Sixth Sense (still one of my favourite movies). While in line, I saw a guy who had gone on the same freshman orientation field trips as me. We acknowledged each other and made small talk. He was ahead of me and soon it was time for him to go to the ticket counter.

Behind me, an older woman had overheard us talking, and in a lowered voice asked why I didn't go to watch the same move he was going to watch. I shrugged the question off, saying there was nothing between us and I wanted to see the Sixth Sense.

This reminds me of the quote by Carter G. Woodson that read

“If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.”

I had grown so accustomed to being alone that even when I was given the opportunity to connect with someone else, I turned my back on it.

Afterwards, there were many things I did on my lonesome, visit flea markets, troll through Chelsea art galleries, go to movies, walk aimlessly, watching Gotham melt from Gothic, industrial architecture into shiny skyscrapers that blinded you with their reflections of the sun and chilled you with the wind tunnels they created.

I loved traveling by subway, disappearing into the depths of the city and emerging into somewhere so different from where you just came from. Sometimes, to truly enjoy the city you have to be alone because you aren't distracted by another person and you are aware of everything.

Fortunately, I did hang out with others. I learned to say yes when asked to do things with friends from back home and friends I met at FIT. The first time I left campus to go to a birthday party of a classmate is still a sweet memory.

Alice was her name and she dressed like a club kid with coloured hair and funky, interesting clothes and a heart of gold. The party was in a bar in midtown and it was fun. It wasn't a big group of people but they were genuine and inviting unlike a lot of people at FIT. I went home with a happy buzz, sure, I stank of cigarette smoke and I had to chuck the green, pleather trench coat I bought at a flea market, but it was worth it.

I had since grown to accept that I need both the alone time and the hanging out with friends time. Both make life that much sweeter. I'm still not good at inviting people out, I still have that fear that they will not show up, leaving me waiting. It's definitely something I'll be working on.

You never know, I might be asking people to go with me to the Sex Museum or check out a dungeon the next time I'm in NYC..... Just kidding (or am I?) But most definitely, I'll be going to a Cosplay convention if anyone is game.

For the sum of four years, on and off, NYC had been my home and with a population of 1 million +, it is still possible for someone to feel lonely. Fortunately, it was a state I was used to, so it didn't bother me. Unfortunately, because I didn't see the need to connect, I didn't take advantage of the opportunities where others were trying to connect with me.

From the yuppy guy in the Kinkos to the Arabic guy who hit on me as I waited for the Q train, they were missed opportunities to see the city from their perspective.

Hot damn! If I continue writing, I'll sell myself on New York again. To those who live in NYC, I know it is so easy to remain in your little box of where you live, your commute and work, but every now and then, step out. Go up to Washington Heights, check out the Dominican vibes, Brooklyn is calling all who want to be inspired. Go to a bar that would normally intimidate you.

To those who have never visited New York City, do it once but don't get stuck in the tourist stuff. Eat, there are restaurants serving every type of cuisine. Check out the Off Broadway plays, some are pretty good. And get lost, you might end up finding something interesting you didn't know existed.

That's it for me folks, return to this Xcentric blog at this Xcentric time of the month for more Memories of Gotham.

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