I love long walks. One of the best things about New York City is the seemingly endless miles of connected sidewalks and pedestrian lanes. You can walk for hours in any direction, exploring different neighborhoods, seeing every kind of person. It’s rich and visually stunning in every direction, especially in Brooklyn. When I’ve been especially broke, I often didn’t mind forgoing the subway or the bus in favor of a good, long walk. Sometimes, it just seemed like more fun to spend a few bucks on a bodega coffee rather than subway fare.
My walks were my exercise, my meditation, my therapy. When Trump was elected, I opted to temporarily remain sober for a little over a month, cooked myself healthy meals, and walked to and from work, winding my way around the perimeter of Prospect Park while listening to music or podcasts or sometimes just the city sounds around me. It kept me from becoming totaly despondant.
Fast forward to early February, 2019. I had just “Lost” my job. Technically, I quit, but circumstances essentially forced me to leave. It had become an unhealthy environment. This was especially heartbreaking on a personal level because not only was this my primary souce of income, but in the past year my job had become as much a part of my recovery as meds and therapy and dancing and meditation.
It was a cold morning, but in that particular way that cold weather can make it a joy to be outside. The air was light and fresh and had just a little clean bite. The sky was an improbable shade of blue and absolutely clear. I was waslking to my internship in Gowanus all the way from Bushwick. For those not familiar, this is a long walk. But I found a fast route cutting through Bed Stuy on Putnam Ave. It would have been awesome on a bike, if I had one.
I was completely broke. No money. Very little food. The internship was unpaid, but they offered courses in exchange for the work, which I felt I needed and could greatly benefit from. I had pined for this internship. It was a part of my long-term plan. This was it. If I was going to stay in New York, I had to make somme drastic changes and work towards a specific goal. I would get further training and experience in an arts organization and fine art classes so I could eventually transition to working for a non profit artss organization – even if it was part-time. It was everything I wanted and then some. I was so happy when I was there. But I was literally hungry. My veins throbbed with equal parts ambitious energy and total exhaustion.
So much of my life was like a beautiful dream. Some days, there were television shoots and VIP parties and hanging out with friends’ bands after their concerts. Some days, I stood over the stove watching the last cup of lentils and rice boiling, not sure if there was another meal after this one.
Still, something about Brooklyn felt like it had become a part of my soul. It always just “felt right” . . . whatever that means. When people asked if I planned to ever leave, I always said no. Brooklyn was home now. I was in it for the long haul, I would tell them. Every time I walked, every place I walked, I fell more and more in love with it. I had been in New York for nearly 5 1/2 years and I never lost my honeymoon-level passion for the place.
I still hadn’t found a new part-time job and I felt like I was falling into an endless pit. I was in debt, it was almost time for me to move from my sublet, things were a mess, and a part of me was lonely and heartbroken. But I hung onto hope more tightly than ever, refusing to let go.
I made a sliightly different detour on the walk that morning, opting to cut up a different side steet, hoping to save time, as I was already running late. That’s when it happened. I thought I turned on the wrong street at first, but I hadn’t. I just didn’t recognize it right away.
Two new large luxury apartment buildings were being erected, and were nearly completed. Less than a year ago, there hadn’t even been a ground breaking for them yet. It felt like my heart cracked. For the first time ever since I arrived, I truly felt too old and poor and like I could never catch up again.
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