Monday, May 22, 2006

When I think of home…

When I think of home, I can’t help but think of two very different places. The first place is the home of the Cowboys, JR Ewing, the State Fair of Texas, Ross Perot, and Six Flags Over Texas. I was born and raised in the city of Dallas, and I lived there until I left to go to college in Tallahassee, Florida. I have not lived in Dallas for an extended period for almost 7 years. Dallas is my home because that is where I grew up and my family is still there. It is also the place where most of my childhood memories were created.

However, the place where I feel most at home is a small island that is home to 8 million of the most diverse, most creative, most dynamic people in the country – maybe even the world. That city is the home of the Yankees, Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and more. Just in case you don’t know, I’m talking about New York City.

My first visit to New York was for Spring Break 2004. Everyone thought I was crazy when I told them I was leaving warm, sunny Florida to go to cold, wintry New York. The week before I left for the city I received news that I had been granted an internship that following summer with a company that was based in New York. I was so excited about the job and being in New York even though I’d never been there. I just knew that this was a great opportunity for me.

I left behind t-shirts and sandals and arrived in New York the following week wearing a coat, scarf, gloves, boots, and a hat. I stayed with a friend who had classes and I was left to venture out on my own each morning until her classes were over. She helped me map out very detailed plans each day of things I could do alone. I’d never walked so much in my life. After the second day, I stayed in bed smelling like Bengay because I was too tired to move any muscles. Overall, I had a good time and couldn’t wait to get back.

I went back to New York in August to begin my 8 month internship. There were 6 other interns from my school at the same company. We had friends throughout the city and in White Plains, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Philly who would come to town for the weekends and we would all hang out. I lived in midtown Manhattan on 34th St. and Park Ave. I walked down 34th St. my first 2 days in town to get acquainted with my new neighborhood. There was always a line outside of this one building that I had passed 3 times already. Finally, I stopped to see what it was and found out it was the tallest building in the city - The Empire State Building. Yes, I lived 5 minutes from this great landmark and didn’t even realize it.

My stay in New York was full of adventure. It took me a few weeks to figure out the subway system, and when I did, I felt like an old pro. I went to Times Square and did some of the typical tourist things at first, but after a while I didn’t want to be around the tourists anymore. I avoided Times Square like it was the plague. I hung out with friends at poetry clubs. I went to Zagat and non-Zagat rated restaurants. I went to bars and clubs where I almost always ran into someone I knew. I went to museums and cultural activities constantly. I took a self-guided tour of Harlem and fell more in love with the rich history of that part of the island. I went to church in Brooklyn every Sunday and would walk through a neighborhood that looked a lot like the Cosby Show. I went to parades and events that celebrated the diverse people and culture of the city. I was surrounded by people who didn’t think my hair was an abnormality or something that needed to be “fixed”. I would go walking on weekends for hours at a time and not realize until later that I was far from where I started. I would find little stores and restaurants that were owned by people from all over the world. New York was not like other places where everyone looks the same and does the same things to fit in. It is truly a melting pot, with a little bit of everything.

I am a native of Dallas, but I’ve never felt so at home as when I was in New York. It was fast-paced, loud, dirty, and I had no relatives there except for when they came to visit me, but there was a sense of familiarity. I felt like I belonged. Now I understand why people will leave their homes to go to this city with nothing but a hope and a prayer. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere - New York, New York.

When I think of home
I think of a place where there's love overflowing
I wish I was home, I wish I was back there
With the things I been knowing
- The Wiz


Post a Comment

<< Home