November 5, 2008
It seems I am not able to leave comments on your hilarious and super helpful article on voting. I am going to print that out and put it on our fridge for my six-year old niece to read!
You gals really are the funniest people I have had the pleasure to meet. In one way or the other, you all embody this city for me. Not the hipsters of Lower East Side or Brooklyn, or the businessmen of Wall Street, or the glamorous creatures of Fifth Avenue. No, all of you, real, funny people, who may or may not live in Jersey City, Harlem, Queens or Prospect Park. You all make this city real to me.
And damn, do I love this city.
I told some of you recently that sometimes I forget that I live in New York. Sometimes, I take this place for granted. Because I am the type of person who has been cursed since my kindergarten days with absent-mindedness, with dreaminess, with spaciness in general, I leave pieces of myself all over this city.
Maybe, it will be the iPod that falls from my pocket, the nth cellphone I unfortunately leave in the care of some stranger, or the notebook that is now lying under the couch of a friend…but I leave them, like strands of hair or flakes of skin falling to mark this city mine.
I read an article for class about circles of influence, and it was about how it is not only the migrant who is changed by the host society, but it is also the host society who is changed by the migrant. Well, I know that New York changed with my arrival. Even with just the way I leave distinct signs of my time upon this place, I think New York changes because of me. For the better or worse, I do not know yet.
But even if NYC changes a little, to accommodate me, to make space for me, it still does not feel like home. After all, it cannot replace the sundrowned memories of running through dirt alleys, chasing the mangtataho or the balut vendor, smiling in conspiracy with other jeepney commuters, or flooding Katipunan Avenue with all the other girls of the exclusive, all-girls, Catholic high school to meet with the boys of the exclusive, all-boys, Catholic high school just one block over.
It cannot replace the feeling of belonging, of being a part of, of owning the dusty streets I walk, filled with the cacophony of motorcycles and children’s laughter and somebody yelling, “Putang ina mo! Umalis ka na nga diyan sa daan!” It really cannot replace the lazy afternoons, overhung with heat and the slow whirr of the electric fan, or listening to the drumming of tropical rain on the roof, or the warm water of the Pacific in January.
The city cannot replace those and consequently, it doesn’t feel like home, not just yet. But then, it doesn’t have to replace those memories, I guess. After all, I leave pieces of myself around the city, like my one-balled, grumpy dog peeing on the trees and fire hydrants of our neighborhood, to make the place mine.