I walked that day, for what could have been five hours straight. Aimlessly; aimed at an undefined destination. I walked tall- as tall as a 4 foot 11 teenager could look – no — feel, rather. It was September. It was a day that possessed the type of weather to sport short shorts and a skimpy tank top. Despite the lack of clothing, I was still sweating. The rhythm of my walk was magnetic; like I was on display in a scene where I was truly the star. The setting was New York City. The streets were my catwalk. The strangers were my lovers. Promiscuity was my downfall, and at the same time, my talent. Something like a troubled run-away teen, the only possessions I needed to survive were wrapped around my back in a red and white Nike drawstring bag: A camera, my wallet, a pen, and a notebook. And it’s true. In a sense, I was running (or walking) away from the chaotic life I created in college. My roommate was driving me absolutely crazy. Suffering, feeling like a prisoner in my dorm. So I skipped class (something I do not do without anxiety), hopped on the 1 train, and escaped. In a city filled to the brim of strange faces, smelly streets, honking horns- in a city that truly defines “hustle and bustle” (whatever bustle really means), I found the ultimate, intimate, peace that I needed. Drowning out the outside noise of lives that do not belong or effect mine with my I-pod, the affair was complete with an award winning soundtrack that placed me exactly where I needed to be- in the center of the city’s universe.
The love for my own moment turned into a catalyst for more love to penetrate into the hearts of every person I came into eye contact with. It’s a really hard thing to explain; the whole “making-love-with-strangers-through-my-eyes-and-smile-and-walk” concept. But it really happened. Reality, whatever that may be, was paused throughout those hours that I left my mark on the city. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, making the moment extra sweet to savor; making the moment especially easy to remember forever, enabling me to recall, with vivid detail, months later, the love that was expressed that day between me and my many mates.
It was a kind of affair that didn’t require me to catch their first names or age. It was a feeling that confirms the cheesy phrase “Love at first sight”. Maybe that’s where it originates from; from a look that two strangers give each other that says more than words could between a married couples of 30 years. It was a speechless connection that will last with me forever, for it was a speechless connection that made me understand.
It made me understand that life can be so beautiful. That a smile, a genuine smile, the kind that isn’t just an expansion of your lips and the sight of your teeth, I’m talking about a smile that comes from the pit of your stomach, and runs up through your heart and beams out onto your entire face. A smile like- pardon me for a metaphor like this- but a smile like a child’s. One that is true, that needs no ulterior motivation to appease someone, not to tease. Not to look pretty. Not to be polite. One that is so real because it’s backed up by uncontrollable joy and thanks and acceptance, and most of all- it’s a smile backed up by the emotion of love. Just Love.
And that’s what my sex, with the city, was all about. It was real, and genuine. It was one that proved life is so much bigger than the small, insincere minded, belittling people that ever so often enter our lives. So often the people we trust and open up to wind up betraying us, and somehow, it can be a total stranger who picks up the pieces, just through a smile.
To The City of New York, thank you.
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