Sushmita Roy
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The View of the Manhattan Skyline from the Staten Island Ferry

 

“I know my New York City by heart,” she screamed over the phone; sliding her fingers between her black curls with a force that lead me to believe, she could at any moment, rip them apart. Rest assured, she didn’t hurt herself at any point but stood up, took deep breaths and walked towards the observation deck. I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

She may be gazing at the ripples or rejoicing at the sight of Staten Island from afar, breathing in the silence of the chaos. Whatever she may have chosen, wherever she was headed, her sudden declaration of authority, self-declaration of possession of the city, made me wonder how much of it was mine if all of it weren’t hers.

And then I remembered that each person makes her own New York. The 70,000 passengers that the Staten Island Ferry carries everyday make their own New York. The 60 million tourists that come flocking into the city live and relive the fantasy that is New York. And no matter how different your New York is from mine, we are all united, in the exact moment when someone utters the word, “New Yorker.”

I have been living in Manhattan for about three years now but had never been able to get myself to take the Staten Island ferry – the only form of free transportation in New York that runs around the clock – or explore even a little bit of Staten Island, the “forgotten borough.” But when I did, there was nothing like coming back home, to my Manhattan.

I am quite a frequent traveller and the same annoying economy class passenger you might encounter every now and then, who continues to fight for her right to occupy the window seat, even before standing in line for the check-in counter.

Yet, I had never gotten weary of staring out of the window, waiting for New York to approach me, or maybe reject me. With New York, you never know, you can never be sure. But today the sight I witnessed, I had never seen before.

Traveling in an airplane or in a subway is quite unlike traveling in the Staten Island Ferry: the struggle, the wars, the history, you see all of it looming over the sea. And then you see the Liberty. “It is gorgeous,” says the middle aged-woman from Texas.

 

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The Commuter’s free pass

 

It indeed is, for her and for thousands of tourists like her who visit everyday quite easily seduced and compelled by the city’s charisma. For immigrants like me, it is what New York is: a symbol of hope: an open invitation that reminds me that I can mold it, make it my own.

I have never had a bad narrative to offer after moving to New York. I have been catcalled, yes. I have had mice problem in my house, yes. I have waited for the subway for more than 20 minutes, yes. I avoid Times Square, yes. I think I should move to LA, get a car and a big house, yes. But does that ever make me love New York any less? NO. “It’s a bitter sweet love affair,” my classmate had said.

And the fact that she called it an affair instead of a melancholy one-sided love story, tells me she knew the city loved her back. Just like I do and just like the millions of others who come to the city and engage in an ever lasting love affair.

For original article- http://campusclipper.com/blog/new-york-i-love-you/

 

One Reply to “New York, I love you”

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