My Greatest Teacher

I was five when I fell in love. That instantaneous, all consuming, hard-to-breathe kind of love. The type that hits you out of nowhere and you’re never the same again. I had fallen in love with New York City.

It happened the first night I spent there. Sneaking out of bed and situating myself between the window and heavy drapery, I surveyed the wonderland below. The bright lights, the stench, the honking cabs, the Ella Fitzgerald, the yelling, the glamour, the grit, it was all beautifully contradictory. This city confronted me, saw me, and knew me. Its brokenness and brilliance confirmed what I already knew: New York was for me.

Since then, even though my TCK transience has led me to explore many more awe-inspiring cities, my greatest love affair continues. Albeit it in short bouts, it is just as passionate as it has ever been. I dream of New York during the day and at night. The thumping of my heart and the bubbling excitement I experience every time I land at JFK is like nothing else.

I’m not “from” New York. I don’t “sound” like a New Yorker. I don’t even have an American passport. However, my feelings for this city never waver. It is a place where I will always belong. This city continues to be my greatest teacher and critic and I will always come back for more.

New York mirrors my very essence in a way no relationship ever has. The city is not restricted to labels, nationalities, beliefs or expectations. It presents me with the freedom to be exquisitely paradoxical. It presents me with the freedom to be me.