In 2019, I studied in an Intensive English class on Riverside Drive at 89th Street. After class, my friend Awetash and I spent our free time exploring the city. We used the subway to go everywhere, and it was an adventure. One day, we went to the Brooklyn Bridge, taking the express train downtown. It was summer, and the subway was hot and full.
What does a deli vendor talk about on the phone when he wraps me up a bagel with cream cheese?
Guys from delis are always on their phones.
I imagine faraway voices from countries where they lived with their brothers.
I have a habit of watching people. I can’t decide if I consider it a bad one. I’d rather call it curiosity.
The other day, I was on the subway, sitting across from a family. They were a couple who had a stroller with a wonderful boy. I could tell from what I saw that this boy was very interested in the people around him. He was smiling at everyone.
Inequality and racism affect mental health because they create additional challenges for people in poor communities and communities of color. Many people have to live with being unemployed and being shot at or arrested by the police. I have had to struggle with these things, and it broke me down mentally countless times. I have fought to overcome these obstacles, but it has been hard, and not everyone has the resources to fight back.
I was on my way to the bank around 9:30 a.m. The traffic on the road caused me to arrive later than I planned. As I entered the bank and looked around, I realized that I would have to stand in line for the entire day. There were only two clerks on duty and a long line of customers. After I stood there for about an hour, my feet started to hurt. A male customer, who was third in line, was on his phone, texting and taking notice of his surroundings. It was his time to approach the clerk.
Yes, I’m a dog lover, and I didn’t know it. I had to fly 5,295 miles (8,521 kilometers) to find it out.
I have a small Havanese, and he probably processes English better than me, at least in a more natural way. He was born here, his previous family welcomed him in English, and for his first months of life, he heard English.
Gregory came to the United States in 1979. Having a difficult and deprived childhood in El Salvador made him realize that he wanted a better life. At the age of 17, he arrived in New York with his best friend, Marco. Nothing was easy for them. They found many barriers, including finding shelter and learning a totally new language, but their hopes of a better life and opportunities never stopped them from overcoming the challenges they encountered.
Since I arrived in New York City, I have enjoyed having coffee outside. What a nice array of wonderful coffee places! My husband and I immediately embraced the NYC coffee culture. Every year, we would go to the New York Coffee Festival, and we would buy the new edition of The New York Coffee Guide. We were always strolling the city to discover a new coffee spot.
Dear Past Self,
Let me tell you about the excitement I felt when I looked down at the extravagant city lights from an airplane window on the day I arrived in New York. I was all by myself and felt relieved after the nerve-racking immigration inspection in Minneapolis and catching my connecting flight to LaGuardia. I broke into a smile once I saw that my husband had come to pick me up. I could hardly speak English at that time, so I have no idea how I got through everything.
New York City,
my university of life
where friends are hard to find
in the midst of dark solitude