I walk out of the 20 story apartment building in lower Manhattan. The cold, winter wind hits my face and whips my hair into my eyes. I brush it away and breathe it all in. It feels like home. My boots stomp loudly on the concrete. My presence is known, and yet blends in with the rest of the chaos. I like it that way. To be seen — and yet belong at the same time. I’ve never felt that way before. Not anywhere but here. Sirens blare, Taxis honk at stand-still traffic, People talk briskly into their cell phones as they walk the same walk that I’m walking — that we’re all walking. I look to my right and see a man in tattered clothes, sitting on the ground with a guitar, and a sign that says: “God Bless You.” I look to my left and see a tall, svelte black man, in platform heels with a pink and black mohawk. No one else sees him. Or the homeless man. They belong to this too, to the city. To the pace and the noise and the color. The vibrant color. Where everything and everyone is authentic. And real. I keep walking..always looking up. To see more. Because there is so much to see. I near the Subway and head down into the underground world that is the New York Transit system. I smell…pizza. And I hear a trumpet coming from nearby. I look around to see an old man wailing away. His case open for the usual donations, and in his black-rimmed glasses and rounded brown top hat.. he belongs here. He belongs to the madness that goes on below the city. With little girls in peacoats with ringlets in their perfect auburn hair, clutching their daddy’s fingers as they board the magic train that will take them wherever they want to go. I step onto the Subway.. headed to my favorite part of the city. An elderly woman falls asleep on my shoulder during the  15 minute ride. She drools a little on my coat but I let it slide. Actually, its pretty adorable. Seeing someone in such a vulnerable state in such an unsafe place. As I step off the train and onto the cold, concrete steps, going up, I see that its gotten darker outside. But it’s never fully dark in the city, the place where somebody always leaves a light on…

It is my favorite time of year, Christmas. And as I walk towards Rockefeller Plaza my heart fills with joy as I see the magnificent tree… surrounded in soft, golden light. There are families skating on the ice rink, lovers holding hands, music coming from all corners. Regal horses are pulling tourist-filled buggies along the crowded streets. The skyscrapers seem to glisten from the city lights, their marble reflecting the glow of the people surrounding them. I feel the wind on my face again. I’m alone, but I’m never alone here. Everything feels good. The city is perfect. I can breathe.




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