Grateful to be Here

I never thought I'd be where I am. When I say this, I mean, I knew I would go to college in the United States but didn't know where and how. I decided in 8th grade that I was going to take the Humanities as my stream and on the recommendation of so many people around me and started circling options around the east coast of North America. As an international student, the idea of New York had been in mind only since the day I was formally introduced to it on a school trip with several acquaintances and teachers from my high school as well as a dear friend who was a grade older and had already developed plans of studying in New York for college. Thanks to her, I discovered The New School that most people back home did not have the luxury of knowing. 

 

Now that I am here, I have come to realize that my problems as a supremely privileged kid back in India are all current issues in America. I feel really lucky to write all this as I go on one of my many late-night introspective strolls to Punjabi Deli. I can see homeless people grip the dark corners of the pavement like a home they are too afraid to claim as theirs, I can try but never succeed in empathizing with them. I foolishly considered myself a nomad, since I moved out of the house I was born in, to a new and bigger house just fifteen steps away in my hometown back in 2017 and I feel like I have been on the move since, out of my new house and in a new dorm every year of school. I have the privilege of knowing where I am going to stay next but the homeless population I see on the street doesn’t know where life will lead them next. For many around me, not knowing where they’re going is considered adventurous and borderline thrilling but moving from corner to corner, in search of something they can call a home for when the weather gets as harsh as the truth of their lives at that moment is not ideal for anybody, even the most daring of thrillseekers.

 

Growing up on a steady diet of comfort and lentils, I feel safe and lucky to have almost every major and minor cuisine worldwide within a mile's radius of where I live. I now have at least one dish that I like for each cuisine I have tried. It's not a struggle to get myself to experiment with food because I now have the option to stay hungry till I see something else I might be craving. Fay Da saves me on days when my bank account’s status lets me down and their roast pork bun makes me want to spend all my cash on them, just as Artichoke Basille's Pizza replaces my blood with cheese on days Fay Da is too difficult to get to.

Restaurants and Cafes aren't inaccessible on weekdays and seeing a celebrity there or walking their dog across the street from me is no big deal and is often nothing more than a small part of my daily ritual of walking around Washington Sq Park and Union Square. I use the subway once every few days when I know I won't be able to get out of bed before I send another "be there in 20" text to friends and potential SOs, almost tricking them into thinking that the MTA will not serve me right just for once this time.

 

I now know what or how stress is supposed to feel like but I have my rose milk bubble tea from Spot Dessert Bar to keep me as active as the day requires me to be. Counting calories and steps is second nature to me as so many people in gym clothes (walking around as if fitness isn't on their mind) have made me conscious of wasting away mine. 

I have observed the cherry blossoms and how beautiful they look on many Spring evenings and witnessed several unexpected rainbows. I have experienced real snowfall and unforgivable snow fights with friends I love and care for. I have learned to appreciate a good library as much as a good book. 

 

Time means different amounts of money for everybody and money is just a way to measure time in NYC. Not everybody has the same love in their hearts or forgiveness in their eyes but they all have speed and focus and love that about themselves since it helps them fit right into this ruthless yet loveable metropolitan island.

I have learned the hard lessons here. This city is where I was meant to be, and I better make my time here worthwhile. I cannot be more grateful to be here.