A Love Letter to New York City

Let me tell you about New York City.

The sidewalks are sort of like highways. Paved and congested.
The people are sort of like cars.
We all say vroom as we walk in our lanes.
We say it out loud instead of having conversations or thinking. (Uptown at least.)
Vroom, we say, vroom.
We are busy people for the most part.

You pay money for airspace and are happy about it too, because breathing is a luxury, and of course rats can't reach you there, nor roaches, and though you can't see the stars in New York City, astrology is the new religion, so the lights from the skyline will more than do.

Let me tell you about New York City.

No one goes to Times Square. No one. Ugh.
Times Square is empty, silent. Of real people at least.
Each time I think I can wrap my arms around the city, it grows an inch.
In winter, a couple feet. It heaves and I heave with it, growing and expanding, there is so much empty space there.
Religious zealots shout at their top of their lungs, that this is the devil's city, that Jesus saves, in this empty square, and no one sees, because no one is there, because no one real actually goes to Times Square.

There is so much noise; music and chatter and the sound of things dying and coming alive. I can't sleep in silence anymore. Quiet means the world is ending. It's a little unsettling, noise is kind of like a heartbeat coming up out of the street.

Let me tell you about New York City.

You walk and walk and ruin your shoes, so you shop and shop for more shoes. I love shoes, and New York City is a cobbler. 

The lights are so bright and the people are like those Jelly Beans from Harry Potter, that look cute but taste ugly, and vice versa, but no one eats candy in New York City.

In New York, no one looks at celebrities.
We pretend they don’t exist.
We look through them.
They shout “help.”
They shout “help please I’m on fire.”
(Sometimes the celebrities are on fire.)
But we see that they are famous
and so we just act like they aren’t there.
We move out of the way so we don’t catch on fire too,
but other than that we act like they aren’t there.
Also homeless people, although they are only metaphorically on fire. No one seems to have water to spare.

Let me tell you about New York City.

Real New Yorkers never eat at Grimaldi’s.
We never eat in Little Italy, even though I live close by.
We never eat at chain restaurants, also they close before 2 am which helps no one.
We never eat at all.
Real New Yorkers consume nothing. Except Rosé. (Because Spring.) And brunch, that's a thing.

We don’t have mouths for eating here. Tourists are always walking around with mouths.
Fucking tourists. Talking and eating. Mouthing.

"In order to be a Real New Yorker you have to have been born here", they say.
"Or moved here more than ten years ago", they say.
"Or know the New York password" (Deadass),
Or inherit Real New Yorker status from the guy at your corner bodega who remembers your order more than twice, I say.

Let me tell you about New York City.

No one in New York calls it “the Big Apple.”

It’s easy to find your way around Manhattan.
Just remember: every address and location in Manhattan.
Just remember: every single possible place you could ever go in Manhattan.
Hold the entire island in your head, in your hand. In your heart.
See, it’s easy.

Let me tell you about New York City.

Every neighborhood has a reputation.

For instance, Midtown is where the squares work. I guess that's where the money is. Anything above 14th street is another world to me. Nobody drives where I live.

The East Village used to be cool, "but now it’s covered under several feet of gravel", they say. No one goes there anymore, because of the gravel. But it used to be cool, and I'm into nostalgia. I go. Also the drinks aren't bad.

Williamsburg is, of course, entirely fictional. When tourists ask us Real New Yorkers how to get to Williamsburg, we laugh and laugh and tell them that's not Brooklyn. Tourists have no sense of direction.

Staten Island? Staten Island is in Chicago. No, don’t worry. It’s a common mistake.

The place I'm from, where I belong, is where everyone goes to be seen. Cobbled streets and lots of celebrities to ignore. We drink Matcha, in SoHo, and don't stop for red lights. It's a place too cool to admit it's cool, so we all just nod from behind our Oliver People's, like cars, except hooting silently, let's discuss brevity.

Let me tell you about New York City.

I want to tell you about this place I live, this place I left, this place I will go back to soon.
I miss you New York City, but I will be back before Spring, save room.

Photography by Shen Williams

Wayfarers- Ray-Ban/ Black Off The Shoulder Blouse- Zara/ Black Slacks- H&M/ Pony Hair Leopard Juliette Block Heel- TopShop/ Jack in The Box Chain Bag- Vintage Yves Saint Laurent