My new city


I am not from this part of the world, the America. I come from halfway away around the globe, from Manila in the Philippines. In terms of time zone, I’m roughly 12 hours away from the sun, from where I come from. Surprisingly, I’ve never hankered going away far from home. I didn’t expect I’d be this far away for this long. This was not in my plans. I wasn’t planning to go anywhere. I’m well settled from where I came from, and most important of all, I have a life which I built through the years.

The main reason I often hear why people uproot themselves, in most cases, temporarily, is to find means to earn money to alleviate their family’s financial condition, and to afford a better life. That’s mostly the case why people go out of the country, and only to return a few years after, to resume what they would probably consider a better life.

That’s not the case at all with me. I had a good life in Manila. By any standards, I was living a comfortable lifestyle. I have a career. I also have the kind of job that I enjoy doing. And the reputation I’ve built so far, has carried me far and wide, which allows me to do every bit of thing I wanted to do.

And, I have a family. That, I have to leave behind. Only because I have the opportunity to go to America.

I’ve been around America. I spent my first year mostly going around. Not really concentrating and focusing on finding a livelihood. I wanted to “discover” what America really is. And so, I embarked on discovery trips, figuring things out along the way. I’ve been to more than 10 cities in less than a year. And nothing in all the places I’ve been to, no matter how beautiful the cities and how sophisticated the offerings, did I feel a sense of belonging. Each of the place I’ve visited never made me say that this is where I want to stay. I didn’t feel any connection at all.

It could be that I’m setting my mind on one city. Since I came to the US, and even before I traveled, I have always considered one city to be the place where I want to be. Maybe, I’ve conditioned myself that way, but, somehow, that’s what happened. For me, there is only one city in America that I want to live and work in. That city is New York.

The first time I came upon New York City, my heart skipped a beat. I instantly fell in love with it. I arrived by midnight train from Goergia, and when I stepped out of the Penn station, I knew that, finally, in almost a year, I found the city where I want to be.

I’ve been here 3 weeks, and so far, my experience has been rich and diverse and challenging. I’ve been through so many wonderful things, and I can only think of a lot more. My day to day life here is magnified.

One day, as I was taking the subway, I came upon a quote pasted on one of the train’s billboards. It was from the famous grammarian and writer, E.B. White. It was a quote taken from one of his weekly essays for The New Yorker entitled Here is New York written in 1948:

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter–the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.”

I was struck by this quote, and I knew and understand what kind of New York I am, and why I am here.

Of course, it shouldn’t take an E.B. White to tell me why I am here and why I want to be here. I already knew, deep down in my heart. The words of E.B. White seemed just to be the affirmation I needed to read and know, to truly belong to the city where I decided I want to be. It was the map I was reading correctly.

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