From Times Square in the dead of night, for a moment, the neon light of the billboard bathes her face in an artificial sky blue. The smell of cigarettes, sweat, perfume, and exhaust mingle in the air. It is the unmistakable fragrance of New York City. Blunt cut bangs over dark oval eyes set above a slender nose and full lips complete her face, a new New Yorker’s face. Her H&M leather jacket’s fashionable oversized collar against the gray cowl neck sweater blends in against the musty night sky. She strides to the station with an edge of fatigue biting at her ankles. She admits with casual regard that she smokes cigarettes occasionally and shrugs with the nonchalance of a seasoned party-goer. She then counters her remark with an observation of the increased health warnings and medical care advertisements, saying with the intuitive calm of a yogi: “This city is dying.”
We part at the intersection. The crowded streets mingle, tourists, natives, and non-native alike become specks in a sea of millions swimming in and out of this metropolis. “The Big Apple,” the city of hopes and dreams, lures those seeking new beginnings, up-and-coming youth styled in their ambitions, the non-English speaking foreign nationals armed with calloused hands, or the entrepreneurs, ever studious and eager to capitalize.
Among the litter cluttered streets, the filth coating new and old, where historical buildings stand proud between the high rises, there is a fatigue. Soaked in the corrupt and hopeful spirit of her citizens, the pollution of New York is inescapable. New York is dying.
Yet, in the rush of cars, trains, and buses, there is also a sense of vibrancy that warms the peeling walls and breathes into the dusty air. Restaurants, green parks, and festivals of every color glow in against the creeping mold and dust, illuminating the faces of her denizens. New York does not sleep, through her citizens she churns and shakes, grows new limbs, and restores the old. Like a Phoenix, ever shifting, casting light and shadow alike, peaking, crumbling upon herself and rising from her ashes. Endlessly, remarkably, New York lives, dies, and is reborn every day.
Blog by Samantha Nakamoto