Driving back to Brooklyn with Mr. Possibility today, we crossed the expressway at sunset, the skyline illuminating its everlasting shine. As he always does, he said “There’s your city.” I turned to him and grinned and then placed my attention back to the place I sometimes feel is mine and at other times feel like it’s not even within my grasp.
Like I did when my father would zip down old curvy country roads in his black Toyota, I rolled my hand in the wind, feeling the pressure and pretending I could touch the building tops. I always find myself reaching and extending when I see New York in the distance – perhaps the view from afar is even more enchanting than the view from the Top of the Rock or looking down from the Empire State.
Stuck in traffic though, I felt a pain that hurts me to admit, but lately, the city has lost its luster. Or maybe, it’s just me.
Yes, Mr. Possibility is accurate by giving the city to me – part of it does belong to me. It gave itself to me many, many years ago when I was a snaggle-toothed seven-year-old, grinning in a pink jacket as I saluted Lady Liberty and giggled at my daddy buying five pieces of New York Style pizza in a single day. I loved it then and I love it now, but like a guy can make you feel when a second date doesn’t result in a third, I’ve felt like New York has rejected me.
With some recent changes and a disappointment I can only credit to myself, I’ve wondered about my footing. I haven’t felt sturdy and stable, but rather wobbly and uncertain, trying to squint into the future, or at the skyline, to try and see a glimpse of what’s next. I’ve been pulling at anything I have in me to gain some hope, to see the silver lining on top of smog and heat, and the offices of opportunity that have turned me away. And in Mr. Possibility’s car, watching the sun fall along with my spirits, I remembered I was returning to a borough and not my actual Upper West Side pad, which made the city seem even further away than it already did.
I watched my hand flutter in the wind in the passenger’s side rear-view window and I realized I was pointing toward Brooklyn, not toward Manhattan. I was going with traffic instead of fighting against it. I was not claiming or revealing myself to my city, instead I was going with a flow I didn’t want to ride. And so, with Selena Gomez’s “Who Says” blaring in the background, I turned my hand over. I placed my palm toward Manhattan and I whispered a silent prayer to let opportunity and faith find me. To let me rename myself and reroute my path so I can find that joy again, that peace, that confidence I’ve always had in New York. And in myself.
Because if it’s my city, I can’t be turning my back to it or to the wind. I have to take it as it is, even when it’s tough and rough-around-the-edges. Even when it doesn’t give me what I want and when it takes me far from where I expected. If it’s my city, I have to always remember to make it mine…and give it (and me), a little time.