A Love Letter to New York City

To New York City
To the man who played me John Coltrane on his trombone in the subway,
To the other man, who was unstable and under duress, his eyes look to me for help
To the Arab Deli owners
To the group of middle school girls who annoy and ask the Deli clerk for lollipops
To the boys wildin’ outside of Prospect Park
To the couple jamming with their heads out the car window in uptown
To the rich kid in the penthouse beside Central Park who wants to go to law school
To the comforting conductor on the Metro North Rail who made sure people weren’t lost
To the street vendor in Union Square playing classicos
To the crowded Chinatown, and it’s sidewalk markets
To the shivers and teeth clatters of kids saying “it’s brick”
To the thick Dominican accents
To the snickering boys and men that starred up my dress
To the kind waitress that works in a restaurant off of 5th, where the table she served pooled their money together to give her a sizable tip
To the Five Guys employee in the East Village who laughed when the children asked about the speakeasy
To the folks who ride the subway with their eyes closed and their headphones on full blast To the army of people trying to sell weed in Times Square
To the college student that does homework in the same car they deal from
To the Pakistani mother that lives in Coney Island and offers food to everyone that enters her home
To the girl whose eyes look lost, she likes the lower east side, the touristy places, she likes the feeling of being in a movie
To the owner of Food So Good Make You Wanna Smack Yo Mamma
To the man that plays accordion in the tunnels, but is never heard ’cause everyone is trying to transfer to the next line
To the girl that did a bad line in the gentrified Upper West Side
To the boy from Jersey who goes into the city on weekends, but wants to go to the West Coast
To the Muslim girl who writes poetry on her notes app the whole D line, she writes about theory and liberation
To the Uber driver from Guyana who’s driven for seventeen years so his children could have a better life, he used to be in a reggae band
To the Serbian woman in Astoria who just wants a baby
To the Ecuadorian boy who’s scared to love again but greets me every morning with a kiss To his friends who show you how to breathe for the first time

New York City is more than it’s skyscrapers, history, and bright lights. New York City’s culture is more than Wall Street men in expensive suits, people dancing on the subway for change, bodegas and delis at every corner, and lost tourists trying to Google Maps the subway. The city that never sleeps, never sleeps because the waitress off of Fifth gets off at ten p.m. then goes to her second job, the Guyanese driver works a fourteen hour day, and the Deli owner gets excited at the snow falling down from the sky cause it makes the boredom of sitting in a store the whole day vanish.

New York City is one of the most crowded cities in the world, yet people feel alone and lost that live in it. They wonder how they are going to pay rent when it goes up because all the kids from Long Island are buying apartments in uptown. They each have their own story, they each have their own supporting actors and villains. They brush shoulders and never see one another again. Maybe if they opened up to one another they would feel less isolated.

The girl from out of town, who is loud and bold as any other New Yorker, but talks to everyone like she’s from the Midwest. She comes to learn the stories of many, her Brooklynite friend turns in astonishment.

She sees the city through a new pair of eyes, suddenly it’s not so dreary anymore. The life she lives by feeling alone, isn’t her personal cloud but one that many share. Knowing that allows for the sun to shine a little brighter, it makes her feel a little less alone.

‘Giant Steps’ by John Coltrane fades off into the sound of the tracks’ roaring, the man smiles at my musical knowledge and intrigue. The driver from Guyana and I exchange wisdom, then he smiles with his eyes from behind his mask and helps me out of his car. The Deli clerk daps me up and then gives me my groceries, and then tells me to stay warm.

New York City isn’t beautiful because of Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building, it’s beautiful because it’s tough, rugged, and dirty. Everyone has a story, everyone is more alike than you realize.

The conversation you could make with someone between 135th and 125th stops could turn someone from stranger to acquaintance to friend. You could bond with them over jazz, South America, or athletics- the possibilities are infinite.

New York City this is my love letter to you.

I hope we are reunited again, Isabella