Cities are very much defined by the relationship I have with the people who inhabit it.
The last time I was in New York, it felt like a separate entity being explored by many of us together. It felt like an attempt to pause time and remember, full of tension, detachment and anxiety.
This time New York felt like a lazy friend. The kind who hustles around you at its own pace, full of its own thoughts and ideas, and occasionally checking in to see what’s going on. Only because it is comfortable, only because you have been accepted – only then you are unnoticed.
My favourite memory this trip, strangely enough, was the night we tiredly climbed into a cab for an easier ride home.
It was the first time my body physically realized the way New York didn’t care for traffic lines. It was a long ride: full of road closures, re-routing through small streets. But I remember my self in that journey very clearly.
Maybe there was something about the blur of cityscapes that reminded me of my daily commutes as a high schooler in my neon cities of Asia.
Maybe there was something about the mad, nonchalant driving and weaving that is delightfully chaotic, yet habitual that triggered my nostalgia. The same uncertainty in the bus down the AliShan mountain, the congestion of a Delhi road, and the quiet flicker of screen in a Singapore taxi.
I don’t think I will ever find this city to be as magical as its narratives make it out to be, but I love every layer of every city that settles into my skin, and I have two New Yorks now, sitting against each other in me.
There’s something precious in that.