As the world waned stagnant, I worried my New York would have come in such a flash, only to be extinguished unceremoniously and all too quickly. Sometimes one day can change your trajectory and restore faith in self and possibility.
By happenstance, or maybe a will to make it personally meaningful, the eleven year anniversary of 9/11 became that day for me. Really, it was the night.
My weeks have thus far been mostly the same. Work Monday, Wednesday and Friday as an intern, then sleep late on the other days, travel here and there, or wild away the nights. I hadn’t yet found the romantic or adventurous aspect of this city that should have been waiting beneath the surface.
Last night a friend convinced me to attend a party in Chinatown after dinner and a rousing game of the greatest board game ever. But it wasn’t the prospect of a party that had me excited–it was the bike ride across the Williamsburg Bridge to Manahattan that thrilled me. The wind, and the water, and the sweat building at the nape of my neck did not disappoint. The towering lights beaming skyward from ground zero, however, visible from the bridge, sealed this moment in my mind (and on instagram).
Of course, finding myself wildly out of place at the party in pink shorts and flip flops (in contrast to outfits far more Brooklyn appropriate), I bid Ben adieu. Walking back onto the street, the towering spot lights beckoned. Fuck it, I’ll bike over.
Zipping through Manhattan near midnight on two wheels exhilarated me. I whipped from block to block, against one way streets, over sidewalks and crosswalks, through pedestrians and taxicabs, looking up every few seconds to find my guiding lights. I zig zagged with no particular path–no google mapping–always turning towards my destination. Having nearly arrived, a car door swung open on the west side highway, as I managed to swerve left a few inches.
The zipper on my open hoodie ripped across the metal. The pounding in my chest accelerated from 90 bpm to about 180. Lucky.
I calmed myself and allowed the bright blue lights to carry my imagination away, the Freedom Tower, replete with red, white and blue, to calm and inspire me. America rebuilds, and we carry on, honoring and remembering the past.
12:00 a.m. approached, and with it, the end of a day. A day, that would have been like any other, had I gone to sleep with my computer in my lap. Instead, I reminded myself what it is to remember, record, save and carry a moment in a pocket, on the pages of a journal. The greatest challenge of calling myself a writer is constantly questioning my diligence, losing inspiration.
Validation, however small, can turn things around. On Monday, my editor told me that they wanted to keep me on as a part time reporter, that I’d survived at a publication where 30% of the staff had been laid off not two months before. The sum of many stagnant work weeks. But now New York seems doable, ready for adventure amidst the bridges and skyscrapers.
A bike ride can turn things around, too. So I’ll continue to ride it out, embrace the pavement and the potholes. The world won’t come to my doorstep, I have to bike out there and find it.
I rode back over the bridge, hands at my sides and relieved. Back at N 7th street, my T-shirt stained with perspiration, and happy, sleep came effortlessly.