New York is one of those places that is exactly what you bring to it. It is whatever you dream of it. It’s a little bit like champagne. Half the fun of drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve is in your head. It’s what champagne represents. New York is like that.
In Haiti the entire United States of America is New York. When someone sent a letter – a letter that you’d get only if it was your lucky day because the postal service system is as chaotic as the alley streets around our part of town– you’d look at the address on the envelope: “Boston, MA.” Well, must be a new way of writing New York.
Even when people moved to Texas, their parents continued to tell friends “yeah, you know my daughter’s coming home next month. She said things are getting really expensive in New York.”
You dreamnt of New York because people who had gone there came back, their healthy bulk ripping through their “nice jeans.” Maybe they brought you a pair. Even though it’s sweltering out, you wore those jeans like a talisman. I got these jeans from New York. If the jeans had a stamp that said New York on them somewhere, even better.
The university? Education? Umm probably not gonna happen. Who you know at FAMV*? Your mother knows somebody? No, OK. Laughter. People could laugh off your dreams just like that. But you knew they’d regret it when you got to New York and you spoke English and you got a job and you came back in a pair of nice jeans you bought yourself. How one gets to New York is totally irrelevant when you’re dreaming. The point is…NY!
What’s in New York? You’re not sure. Tall buildings. What else? It doesn’t matter. Did you see Yvonne when she came back? She built her mother that room (read: house). It has a wooden porch out front. She is working now –in New York. She doesn’t stay with the mean people anymore. You know Mary-Joseph’s husband tried to get funny with her. She got herself a good job. She got out…
It’s New York. From thousands of miles away, it will feed your dreams.
Up close, it’s whatever you make of it.
It’s the New Yorker and its intimidating building. It’s the New York Times. If I could read the New York Times without having to look up every third word, I knew I spoke English. It took me a year to do that. Broadway, Madison Square Garden, always as featured in my memories after watching Annie when I was younger. The Subway! A gateway to discovery. Flatbush Avenue. The Village and the University. Chinatown. The fresh food stand next to your building. The New York Public Library System, my very first American friend. My friends, none of whom came from the Caribbean, almost all of whom spoke at least one language I didn’t know.
I lived in New York for four years and I never went up the Chrysler or the Empire State Building. It was not until I left it that I thought about visiting them. Every time I come here I find something new that I love.
Recently I discovered the New York skyline…
*Mouse over photo for variation!
*Faculté d’Agronomie et de Médecine Vétérinaire