Do you know that moment when the dream closest to your heart comes true? I've imagined it many times, but none of the times has it turned out exactly as it was in that second when I got out of the subway in the middle of the night and caught sight of the tall buildings, unevenly lit, depending on the fatigue of their inhabitants.
The noise of 1:30 in the morning, people walking their dogs, jogging, buying food, sleeping on the sidewalk, in the cardboard house with their pets wrapped up to their necks to their right, drinking too much and walking home, some hurried, others relaxed, bypassing the rubbish collected in front of shops with the lightness of people who are no longer afraid of anything - life itself pulsating happily in the city that never sleeps, but above all that does not judge anyone - they are simply unique.
For the first time in my entire traveling life, I had tears in my eyes when I encountered all that madness in the middle of the night.
I don't say it in that tearful way, but simply, from too much desire to step on New York soil, the words stopped in my throat, time stopped in place, tiredness, the late hour, didn't matter anymore, ringing in the ears. I was speechless, with tears in my eyes.
I don't know where this fascination for New York comes from. I have no idea what makes it special. Are all the movies we grew up with, the books, the music, the stories, the American dream itself, and the stereotypes in our minds to blame? I have no idea.
What I know for sure is that those days in the middle of the huge city were full of joy. I mean exactly as I imagined them and then some.
If you want the short version, know that the title is a lie: I liked everything in New York. Even the things I didn't like.
In the long version, I liked PEOPLE the most.
From the very first night, I called New York the city of 'I don't give a fuck, just watch me!', and this thing has nothing to do with people's indifference (as I thought people were in a really big city), but with the free (yes, libertine) way New Yorkers seem to live their lives.
In New York, you have no chance to be the weirdest, the worst dressed, the funniest, the most out of the ordinary, or the most different.
I also wrote on my Facebook page the first evening that for a man like me, who has traveled the world, but grew up in a traditional country, with conservative values and great love of the world, to be in the middle of people who live their lives freely, far from preconceived ideas and the normality of the neighbors, was a huge breath of fresh air. I filled my lungs and for a few days, I breathed happier.
Strolling the streets of New York, I melted for people dressed as their hearts dictated that day, even if that meant something completely different from what we've learned to call normal. In fact, time and time again I found myself admiring the diversity, the amalgamation of people of all ages, races, and colors of human skin as if it were my first time out of the country.
It was perhaps, rather, the joy that in certain corners of the world, diversity still survives. Despite the populism, despite the walls, despite the hate, she is still there and, although strangled, she still breathes.
I've thought about this a lot because our passion for travel is actually about diversity. Is it not for diversity that we leave hai-hui, no matter where we choose to spread our wings? Isn't that where all the beauty of the world lies? In the different things, the unknown traditions, the different ideas?
Isn't that what draws us to new places? What would be the charm of the world if we were all the same? What else would we discover at the end of the destination?
In fact, would we still leave if we knew we would find everything we already have at home?
Today, unfortunately, after years of multiculturalism and globalization, diversity has become rather the bridge that separates us. Unknowingly, we each found ourselves on our own piece of shore building walls of stereotypes. Maybe that's why I looked so closely at the people of New York, maybe that's why the people were for me the most important tourist attraction in the city that never sleeps.
In search of diversity, I found myself looking lovingly at two women kissing each other's eyes and foreheads, and hands under a scaffolding on a sidewalk corner in a tender, deep, completely non-sexual embrace, or admiring a transsexual dressed in a short, shiny dress, made up and styled with such skill that even if I had ten hands I could never arrange myself like that.
I saw him walking freely, just like any other man, without being cursed, spat on, humiliated, but on the contrary: elegantly, on high heels, with a straight back and curls in the wind, overflowing with self-confidence and leaving behind its a fragrance that many of us are unfamiliar with: I feel good in my own skin.
The first evening, on the way out of Central Park, on Fifth Avenue, I saw two young men, sitting in each other's arms on a bench, playing with each other's hair and laughing in each other's ears like any other couple in love.
The sounds of their laughter could be heard beautifully in the night air, which remains for me the most beautiful expression of love. I saw nothing vulgar in their play, nothing unnatural, nothing to make me wonder why there were two men in love on a bench and not he and she, perhaps equally in love.
One morning we were having breakfast in a typical American diner—with rectangular tables studded with bacon scrambled eggs, pancakes with maple syrup, slices of bread with peanut butter and glasses of orange juice, and leather benches facing each other. -in front, so you can see your interlocutors, connect with them - and two people sat down next to us: a man dressed in a biker suit and a woman in her 30s, with orange hair, velvet dress, long, black and with many skulls drawn from top to bottom, long earrings, arched eyebrows with black pencil and red lipstick, spread on full lips.
We purposely looked around to see how many people would turn their heads at the sight of this ″unusual couple″ and what do you see? No one looks back! How many heads would he have turned in Europe?
Each time, my heart fluttered at the sight of people in a hurry, each too focused on their own to have time to judge those around them, just smiling with good sense. I looked at them and I wished there were more people in our country who would judge less, who would be more empathetic, who would be more aware that their way of living is not the only one in the world and that all people have the right to live freely, exactly as they feel.
I'm not saying that things are rosy and that all New Yorkers are monuments to empathy and kindness. Nor that I was able to discover New York in a few days and that I possess the absolute truth. It would be absurd, inappropriate, and not representative of who I am.
I'm just saying that it did me good to see that it's possible in another way: without nudges on the back, whispers, and surreptitious glances in which you can clearly read: have you seen that one? did you see that one omg how he was dressed! omg, how tattooed he was! omg, what a weird cutter! omg, how creepy! omg omg omg! How much-wasted energy! What little problems! What little people!
And I also say that at the end of the day, the most important thing is to be happy. With our people, with our choices, with the (unique) life we have created for ourselves.
No one, no one has the right to tell us how to live our lives.
In New York, as in no other city, I walked without haste. We took the streets in stride, and the travel plan was an easy one, from Sunday afternoon: to tick off the main tourist attractions in New York, and the rest of the time to enjoy the….streets and buildings.
That was my feeling too.
In New York, every street corner reminded me of movies I've seen at one point or another in my life.
Every black-gloved beggar carrying cartons in a supermarket basket, every fire escape of some red brick building, every intersection guarded by green plates, every yellow cab and a hastily raised hand, every building that twisted my neck trying to catch the top of it, every man hurrying with a bag of donuts and steaming coffee in hand, every food truck with cheap food and hot dogs with ketchup and mustard, every American flag swaying in the wind, every steamy street coming out hungry from the sewers, every school bus, every NYPD car, every plate of bacon omelet and maple syrup pancakes, every drop of peanut butter spread on slices of white bread, every horn, every sound, every rap song…all of it -they made me feel like I walked into the TV and suddenly found myself on a movie set, in the middle of people with fancy, hectic lives that I've watched for years.
The streets of New York are a movie and a tourist attraction in themselves.
The streets of New York bear all the symbols of the American dream.
The streets of New York make you daydream.
The streets of New York give you the feeling that you can do anything, that you can be whoever you want to be.
The streets of New York ″will make you feel brand new″.
On the streets of New York ″there is something in the air that makes sleep useless″.
The first morning, after a rough night of little sleep and restlessness, we went out to buy plug adapters. I had no make-up on, a baggy t-shirt, uncombed and unwashed hair, deep dark circles covered by sunglasses, a $2000+ hole in my pocket for a crappy apartment (literally), but a good mood like no -I remember having even on my best days. We were smiling and saying good mornings and thanks a lot, you are very kind! left and right and the other people were smiling at me in turn.
Then, on the first morning in New York, I felt that I had been there before, that I knew that big city, that there was nothing foreign, nothing to be afraid of.
Paradoxically, I felt at home.
I don't know how it sounds, but the memory of the happiness of that morning is so vivid in my mind that I can almost visualize it. I wouldn't know how to explain it to you. I'm sure it's not a rational process, but one created with the soul, out of too much enthusiasm, as happens with all the places, projects, and people that are first born in our dreams.
In New York, the streets and buildings make the best mix of urban beauty. You can't walk the streets of the big city and not strain your neck trying to take in the tall buildings, like elegant women dressed in glass from head to toe. In the end, we're suffocated by concrete and thinking about slow living in real life, but it's as if you don't miss the green grass at home anymore when you tirelessly breathe the big city life fast forward.
Although I liked more the authentic New York found in Brooklyn, Soho, or Queens, the Manhattan skyline remains one of the most beautiful sights in the world.
Obviously, at night the city takes on a kind of glow that holds you, prisoner, and doesn't let you sleep, breathe, or close your eyes.
During the nights I spent in New York I felt the need to simply sit and look at the illuminated buildings. Besides, during those nights I slept a little, in periods, and the sleepy person in me didn't even get upset.
The rental apartment, though shabby, was on the 32nd floor, and the kitchen, living room, and balcony were clad in glass from head to toe, unashamedly bringing into the house the thousands of lights from the streets of Manhattan. Plus, the view of the Empire State Building kind of took our breath away. How can sleep come?
Speaking of nights, streets and buildings, in New York I loved the fact that I could walk around Chinatown, Soho, Brooklyn, Williamsburg, or the Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of the night without fear. NYPD cops were on every street corner, which gave me an unexpected sense of security.
Incidentally, in recent years the crime rate has dropped dramatically in New York and continues to drop thanks to the efforts of the relevant authorities. In 2017 there were only 290 murders compared to 1990 when more than 2000 people were killed in New York. Obviously, NYC's safest neighborhood in Manhattan with the least reported crime.
For me, New York was as I dreamed it and a little more. In the end, the diversity, the streets, and the buildings stayed with me from the amalgamation, more than any tourist attraction on the must-see list.
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