Week Thirteen.*

“I walked toward Penn Station through the fog, and New York looked like a painting. Perfect and inexpressibly fragile…And I thought: Someday I’ll use all this.”

The book: Me and Orson Welles by Robert Kaplow

The memory: 

It had never been my dream to live in New York. Not really. Not like other dreams I’ve had. Things on my list that I’ve wanted to do or accomplish or experience since I was very, very young. I’ve always wanted to write a book. Now that –  that’s been a lifelong dream.

But living in New York was just one of those things that happened, and then later my brain tweaked and altered the memories to justify why I moved here. Last year when I was applying to graduate school, I really wanted to live in San Francisco. But perhaps on a whim, because honestly I didn’t really research into NYU’s graduate program, I applied here.

For New Year’s 2012, some of my friends from Vietnam and I had a reunion in New York City. It seemed like a fun place to celebrate the new year. I had just submitted graduate school applications. We were taking a stroll through Washington Square Park and the NYU “campus” area, and a friend said, “Look! This could be your life!” I chuckled and shrugged it off, then thinking I’d still ultimately end up somewhere else. Ny 1960s

A few days before the payment had to be submitted to secure your spot in school, I was discussing with my dad the pros and cons of which school to pick. He looked at me with that really comforting smile he has, and said, “Go to New York. It’s your dream!”

It was so sweet. But, I really can’t remember why he thought that. Paris, yes; Vietnam, yes.

Either way, I’m here. And New York is really something to be experienced. All of the extremes of it.When the days are good, they’re really fantastic. When the days are bad, they’re incredibly isolating. I know New York isn’t the center of the world, but I feel like everything is given birth in this city. Songs, poems, novels, movies – all written about her. Everything is set in New York, even the standards and expectations. For the moment, my life, too, is set here, and soon I’ll join the swarms of people who will write about the city.

New York is not my final destination by any means. But for the brief period of time that I am here, I will embrace her. I will embrace her overly crowded streets, pungent smell of urine, aggressive attitudes, overly busy schedules, lonely lunches by oneself in the park, and overpriced just about everything…because during those foggy evenings, when the bright lights seemed more dim than usual, she is perfect and fragile.

You have to really love her, for her to love you back.


Sometimes, another’s words say it better than your own:

“about a week and a half ago, friends played an acoustic backyard show. the evening was warm, fireflies were dancing in the dark and we all sat, silently listening, thoughts carried through the night by the songs. and then, a word, a chord sparks a thought and you remember all these things from the past that brought you to that place. rooms and meals and car-rides you shared with family and friends. what it feels like to take off on an airplane. why community is so important and beautiful (and yes, sometimes also painful). that there are people you wished were right there that moment. or happy and thankful that there are wonderful people sitting right next to you, enjoying that same moment. and in that moment things make sense, and there is hope that it all is worth the struggle, that the hope for an unbelievable experience, born the year before at a bon iver concert, is still promising that things will really be alright.”

– My friend, from The Apartment Shows

End, Memory Thought Thirteen.

Next Week: Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuellson

*1/4 of the blog project completed.


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