Spring in New York is a rare, fleeting beauty. A true privilege. I only remember the sweltering and heavy heat of last summer, and I’ve only just survived the brutality of this past winter, so this weather proves a delicious comfort in its quiet arrival and forgiving coolness. I love the vibrancy of the young leaves, the trees slowly coming back from the dense, dry winter dead, and the magnolia tree outside my window that shakes and sheds in the wind and spring rain. Maybe you wouldn’t expect to find it in the epitome of an urban jungle, but here it is, in my bustling but easy neighborhood on a lazy Sunday morning in Brooklyn.
I can’t express due gratitude and devotion for this city, for what it’s done to me and for me. I know it might sound silly to say that I’ve “come of age” here, especially at my age (it’s usually used in the context of adolescence, but maybe I’m just admitting to how much maturing I have left to do), but in my short tenure here, I’m impossibly grown. I inhabit my own skin, and I actually take ownership of my life and the events that move me. Before, I was so ready to blame luck and circumstance for the things that happened to me, both good and bad, but now I’ve finally found the confidence to credit myself for my own destiny, which has brought me to this center of the world. It’s given me a canvas for my imagination to spread across, for me to indulge, unchecked, in every curiosity, without judgment or reprisal. What’s more, it’s afforded the privilege of time and exposure. Without overt pressure, I’ve been able to enter the crucible and choose the pace my transformation, exploring and developing viewpoints and preferences that must have been buried in my being for an indeterminate time. It was there; I just needed to dig it up from the ocean floor. It’s the feeling of vast and infinite freedom. To be myself. To explore myself. I couldn’t have asked for more.
It’s the strangest sensation, so juxtaposed to how I felt barely a year ago. I remember coming to New York last summer, on a bus from Boston, and looking out across the water at a daunting panorama of Manhattan megaliths. I remember drunkenly crying on a friend’s rooftop in Green Point that looked out at the same skyline (if from a different angle), thinking, It’s just too big. There’s no way I can make it. My friend held my shoulders. “Everyone has that ‘Oh shit, this is New York’ moment, dear.” I remember walking among giants, perhaps somewhere in East Village waiting for another friend to get off work, praying to one day belong to one of these buildings.
Two weekends ago, I went to Boston for the weekend to attend a dinner event with Khaled Hosseini, for whom I can’t give enough credit and praise for “raising me” through his unmatched writing. I was on a Chinatown bus leaving the island. I looked back at the same panorama, and peering faintly through the tall grass of gray buildings, I identified a little, pinkish-sandstone art deco tower. That one’s mine. That’s the one I belong to. It was an otherworldly sensation: belonging. To feel at home, rooted to a plot of earth where, one day, I will perhaps lay my bones to rest.
I’ve become politicized, incensed, enlivened, happy here; it’s like a relief that had for so long eluded me. Above becoming the seat of my throne, New York is the seat of my happiness. I couldn’t have expected or ever imagined to find such wealth or deliverance to welcome me here.