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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Manhattan, at only 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide, is a trapped vertical city dominating the world.

My lifelong dream was to be a part of it, thanks to reruns of "Sex and the City" and "Gossip Girl." I decided to give the fast-paced glitz and glam lifestyle a try. And next, I'm packing my bags for a summer internship. New York City found space to shove in one more single, wide-eyed 105-pound girl.

At just-turned-21, I was higher than the Empire State building and the world revolved around me.

New York gave me everything. It gave me beautiful pictures to Facebook, celebrity-sightings to brag about and delicious food to feed my burning ambition.

The City worked for me. I only saw what I wanted--based on my mood. 

Some days I saw tall thin Brazilian models followed by suited European men with Rolex's. Other days I only saw and smelled homeless men who hadn't showered in weeks. The women of the Meatpacking district were humbly decked in Chanel and Louis Vuitton, others were impressing bouncers with their Chinatown fakes. 

As much as New York City fascinated me, something about the fast-paced, money-draining city propped the question: where do I cry?

Perhaps this is a silly concern. My concern was as cute as a suburbian girl gets. New Yorkers don't have time to cry. 

But there's something about the City. Maybe it's the pollution, the dirt, the speed walkers rushing to catch the A train that makes you lonely and worn before the day is over.

The suburbian in me just wanted a square foot to call my own. Even my apartment bathroom, shared with three others, couldn't provide solace for over five minutes--there was always a knock on the door.

This summer I had a falling out with my college best friend. I was shattered and I wanted someplace where I could rationalize it and let out a big long cry.

I couldn't find a single place to sit and replay all the memories. Every corner, every inch of NYC was eaten, chewed and spitted on by thousands every day. There was no place, no park and no bridge where I could privately ponder the meaning of life.

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In one instance on a hot July night, another failed attempt to reconnect the friendship, I was in the middle of the city with an urgent urge to cry. I am not a public crier, but I could not contain myself. After much search and waiting, I found a vacant bench outside a hotel and started to cry, for what seemed a good 10 minutes.

People passed by, with their dogs or their fiancés or their best friends. Some stared as they passed me; others ignored me and carried on. Like typical New Yorkers, no one said a word.

People passed by me as if I were a ghost. I did not matter. I was neither an asset to the sidewalk nor a hindrance to the ones passing by. 

I was invisible and I liked it. Nobody bothered me. I finally found my private spot in the city—anywhere, anytime.

That's what New York City is all about. It's what you make of it. You see who and what you want to see. You decide what you want to do, when you want to do it.

It's where you get off work at 11 p.m. and order food at 3 a.m. and jog along the Hudson River at 5 a.m.

It's New York City, and it's at your service.

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