First I have to say, that writing doesn’t come as easily as it did before. I’ve realised that as I’ve gotten older it’s also been more difficult to freely express myself without having this gnawing feeling that I will have sounded stupid breathing at my neck.
When I was younger I wrote everyday and I would send them in my morning “GMs” to classmates and friends. I wrote poetry, prose, wishes, prayers, and every line else in between. I had so many things that lined my head - words waiting to come to life through art in paint, music, dance, writing — words that meant so much to me, or at least enough to let them live outside my brain. But these days I’m far too self-critical to let a word out without making sure it is as polished and presentable as many other things I do with my craft these days.
Fear not, I say — this blog will be a safe place. And although I use this space as a professional outlet of my work for clients and outsiders to peek into my world to get a good glimpse of who I am, I figured I wouldn’t have been as honest as I always wish to be if I don’t let them into my crazy side, too.
So here I am, fourth paragraph later still gabbing on about stuff not related to New York City. Or maybe they are. I miss this place often and dream about going back the minute I step into the airport aiming to catch my flight back to Manila. If I had the chance to fly to anywhere else in the world right now, I’ll probably pick New York. And it’s not just because my best friend lives in one of the coolest boroughs in town and I could easily crash her apartment (and probably not have to worry about rent for maybe 6 months before she kicks me out), or because I met Tom Hiddleston there the first time I went (and probably will see him again if I seek intently enough). It’s because New York City, out of all the places in the world (yes, I’m sorry, I love my country, but even Manila -) makes me feel most like myself.
I don’t know if it’s because of the cliche “effect” the city has on people, as most would argue; but whatever it is, I feel most at home there. I would wear the clothes I like, use my pink eyeliner as often as I want, talk to almost everyone who’s willing to have a conversation, start a dance off with professional pop-lock-droppers in the club, read in the park to my heart’s desire, and spend as many hours in the museum as I want. New York City makes me feel invisible, and yet the most visible - nobody knows me, or I them, but whenever I have the chance to get to know someone I rarely feel the need to put on a facade or wall as often as I do normally.
My dad would say that I only claim these things because I’ve only been there for short, sporadic, periods of time. A valid argument, except I know myself well enough to counter that this assumption is untrue. There’s a feeling in your heart that settles with your whole being when you know, in all honesty, that you are being your truest self. When I lived in Oxford for a while to study there, I also felt that way. But not in the same comfortability as I did when I was in New York. The whole place is magical. Even the boring parts of it, where people actually live outside the crazinesss of Manhattan and settle in the other boroughs that surround it.
I love the fact that I can go to any jazz bar and catch great music, whenever I want to. My best friend Hana and I, ended up in one, in Greenwich and we had a beer before leaving and going home to Williamsburg. I also had the chance to go to the MET. Twice. I fell in love with the place the first time I went there so I spent a good maybe four hours going around and staring at all the pieces, sitting by the benches and watching the painters paint replicas of classics right by the hallways, reminiscing my days as a Fine Arts student and imagining what would have happened had I pursued my degree; falling in love with art again so much that I had to take Hana the next day and tour her around as if I owned the place.
Did I mention I got to watch the greatest musical in the world in the greatest city in the world? Yup, I paid the price to watch Hamilton and boy was it worth it. I didn’t even get the chance to take photos and I barely have any footage on my vlog (just getting into the theatre and waiting for the show to start) because I was ecstatic. I had no idea what to expect - by that time I hadn’t obsessed over it on Spotify or memorised all the lyrics, I didn’t even know it was about Alexander Hamilton THE Alexander Hamilton - but I watched it and my soul was fed. I was reminded of how I got to this point in my life now, and it was because I bended the rules and jumped out of the box often, I carved my own space and I built from there; that was Hamilton for me - an impeccable immersion into the courage and candor of another artist willing to tell a story in a way it hasn’t been told before.
I had a marvelous time exploring the city again - on my own, yes, and with a tour group as well. I was the youngest, as always, and the only one without companion. I saw the Statue of Liberty from a ferry and I got to say a prayer while at the 9/11 Memorial. The Brooklyn Bridge was my view most of the time as I ate breakfasts or walked around looking to catch the subway. I ice skated in Bryant Park and made a new friend. I dressed up as Bowie for Halloween and only two people got it correct (all the others thought I was a “sexy astronaut” but there was nothing sexy about what I was wearing because I was all covered up). I had the chance to walk my best friend from her office to take her to the Top Of The Rock.
We also were able to explore the city on foot and walked around / took our bikes around Brooklyn. We bought some cool stuff at the thrift shop and Artists and Fleas. I slept in their HUGE apartment in Brooklyn and became friends with their amazing housemates - an Italian couple who were both artists as well. I got lost a lot. I didn’t have internet on my phone, only when there was WiFi around. I reclaimed myself in the parts where I had lost myself.
If anything, New York was a reminder from God that I need not depend on anything, anywhere, or anybody else, in able to define who I truly am. I find my identity in Christ, and I’m able to explore all the other parts of who I am when I let go of my incredulous need for control and stability and just kind of surrender all else to Him. I should do my quiet time faithfully, even when I’m traveling, and I shouldn’t - at least not anymore - depend on travel to give me a good thud in the head before accepting life’s challenges with a courageous new heart. I should be kinder to myself, and keep my eyes fixed on Him. But I also should be enjoying this remarkable season of shift in my life, and welcome it with curious, brand new eyes.
See you again this year.
I want to express my deepest gratitude towards my now-married friends, Hana and Aaron, for being amazing hosts. I miss you guys always, whether in New York or elsewhere, and am always praying for you. I can't wait to be with you again.
You're right. I didn't proofread this thing, and frankly, I won't bother either. The whole point of going back to writing as often as I once used to is to regain the confidence I had in freely expressing my soul through words and art. I feel like fussing over my grammar and how I could have "worded that sentence better" would be counterproductive. So pardon the lapses, it usually gets better - but no promises. I also didn't get to edit any of the photos because my Lightroom is acting up -- if you were wondering those are all raw photos from my Fujifilm XT20. And yes there is a vlog.