That’s the succinct version of it. Let me be clear, being 30 is actually fantastic. I feel like I actually know who I am, what I want, and where I want to go with my life. The actual year was just a cacophony of complete and total ass. A combination of personal shitstorms and the world being on fire will do that to someone.
It’d be easy to tell you that I found some deep reserve of inner strength and that’s what got me through this past year, but that’d be a lie. There were times when I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, but more often than not I relied on the kindness of others. You can call that weakness, you can call that co-dependent, but I just call it survival. There were the people that I leaned on heavily, and they know who they are. I learned to be careful not to rely on them too much, because they can burn out too. I’m an introvert by nature, so it can be hard for me readily reach out to people.
But the stuff that really saved me, is just New York City. The city has this reputation for being cold, and I couldn’t disagree more. The city is ambivalent. It doesn’t care about you, until you care about it. They say the city is unkind and cruel, they say that because they just want the surface. They want the experience, the glitz, the picture on Instagram. All that’s okay, who am I to judge, I like those things too. But, the people here know that’s what you want, and they don’t care about it. Beyond the glamour and promise of New York City, there are people. There are the deli workers, the taxi drivers, the doormen, the bartenders, the people that support that facade that everyone thinks of when they think of New York. That’s where I found solace.
When I couldn’t fall asleep at 2am, I’d go across the street to the $1 Pizza, grab a slice for me, a slice for my doorman and we’d talk. My night doorman would reminisce about his life in Colombia. He’d tell me about his childhood, about his music career, and how he played for Pablo Escobar that one time. Other times it was shooting the shit in Spanish with the guy who knows my usual order in the deli. Or maybe it’s debating with a bouncer which place has the best jerk chicken in the five boroughs. It might seem insignificant, but it’s this web of social interactions that makes me feel like a part of this city. There are times where I want to stand out, but I take refuge in the fact that I can blend into the people who’ve lived here their whole lives and find solidarity in this metropolis. Every single person I’ve talked to when I’ve been trying to calm my mind has dreams, both faded and failed, and yet they still keep going. They survived because they’re relentless, not only in trying to make a better life for themselves, but simply getting up in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other.
No man is an island. That’s absolutely true, but in this literal case, I’d like to be. There’s something to be said about Manhattan, for every single way that it drains you and beats the absolute shit out of you, there’s a counterforce, but it’s not going to just come to you. Through these past few months, salvation has come in the form of records and these seemingly incorporeal threads of human interaction. All these threads come together to form this web that’s been keeping me afloat for the past three hundred and sixty five days.
I wish I could tell you that things will get better, but I really don’t have a clue. I’m not sure if there’s some grand lesson that I can impart, but all I can say is get up, breathe, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Oh, and be kind. Kindness matters, it matters a lot. But, don’t be an idiot, be kind to begin with, then people get what they earn. Suffer no fools.
Another year has gone by, and I just want to say thank you, and express gratitude in the most sincere way that I can. Writing is my therapy, my way of venting and connecting. And if you’ve read, even just once, in some small way it anchors me. So thank you, and thank you again for being a part of my life, in whatever minuscule way you choose to. It helps keep me sane, and keeps me going, which is all anyone can really ask for. I have been immeasurably blessed, and all of you are indeed a part of all that.