Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash
The bustle of the city is electric in my stride. Against the move of a large crowd of strangers bundled in heavy coats and leather shoes, my mind is clear about where my feet are taking me.
After the influenza pandemic of 1918 ended, the first roaring ’20s began in huge gatherings, swing dancing, and dating after months of mailed love letters. It’s no different now. The streets of Koreatown at 3 AM on a Friday are just as lively as ever, with karaoke-goer’s, pop-dance clubbers, and online daters meeting after months of online messaging.
Nope. Women now dress in girly colors and stylish pantsuits that fashion magazines we once listened to said were childish and manly.
It’s as if our collective experience has given us the same hive mind thought: If not now, then when? Women and men alike are coming to this realization. Why wait to wear bright colors and androgynous styles?
Young people are realizing this is the youngest they'll ever be, and if there was ever a time to take a fashion risk that now would be the time.
I can’t help but notice that the energy is filled with excitement, but so many people I’ve met have soulless eyes. Like zombies marching to the next bar or the next destination that they are aimlessly hobbling to.
Blame it on 2 years of quarantine away from other human beings, blame it on the social media algorithm that minimizes actual connection.
Either way, I hope the bold attitudes towards fashion are here to stay and the zombies with empty eyes are just a brief visitor.
The worst thing in New York used to be tourists. At least before they could be avoided by not visiting those areas that were filled with them. Like the Empire State that charges a fortune to stand on concrete 150 floors above street level, crushed in with people who are visiting the city for the first time and marveling at the whiz of taxis below as a travel destination.
Now the worst thing is the god-forsaken Tik-Tokers. Entitled, well-dressed, and misunderstanding of what New York is about.
New York (n.): City of Dreams, The City that Never Sleeps
There’s the reason why trains never stop. It’s not just for the party-goers trying to save $40 on an Uber ride from one borough to another, but for the night-shift workers who just finished an 8-hour shift who are trying to get home to their warm bed and loud children.
New York City isn’t just something to marvel at or to be baffled by.
Now, the City has come alive again. Bustling at all hours, young Asian Americans building relationships with strangers they had just met the same night, sharing a meal over Korean barbecue and bottles of soju.
Young adults are finally able to bond over a crucial friendship test for one’s capacity for diversity, inclusion, camaraderie, and thoughtfulness.
I used to work on Wall Street. The glass buildings reached dramatically toward the eclipsing sky. There wasn’t much of the blue left, not that it mattered. I only had a few moments to marvel at the energy of the people around me, all hurrying toward their office jobs with tainted windows and dull white lights.
We were like those buildings, full of energy and passion for reaching upwards but neglecting to focus on anything else. The important things, like family, friends, and other true connections.
Standing in the middle of Times Square made me feel like I made it, even though I still feel that I haven’t. Like I’d finally become a part of something greater. Something inspired. But I was home-grown, a native to New York City. I guess I felt that way because Manhattan was often disjunct from the other boroughs.
We called Brooklyn the Suburbs of the City. Quaint and quiet. Safe. But every walk of life could be found here, and every brownstone stuck to each other’s side like white on rice or whatever that’s supposed to mean.
Neighbors disagreed here, as they do anywhere. But here we try and make nice, to prevent complaints to the city and to prevent fines. Otherwise, neighbors are just another blurred face rushing past as you race down the street towards work, school, or something else you’re about to reach just as it begins.
New Yorkers are known for being rude. I don’t know why that is. You’re in my way, so I’ll step around you and lope ahead.
Buddy, you’re walking too slow.
Sure, there’s always the wise guy screaming at you down the street or the homeless person on the train who you feel threatened by. The first guy’s crazy and he won’t follow you if you avert your gaze. The second person is also crazy, avoid them at all costs and don’t show fear.
Are we rude or are we resilient?
Life in New York isn’t like living in a small town, or anywhere else that isn’t a big city. An average day will test your gumption, your courage, and how quickly you can get yourself out of a potentially sticky situation. With lots of luck and a great amount of trusting your gut, every day will become your life. Harrowing moments is another stitch in the colorful fabric that is your life.