Here I am,about to leave New York after two years, trying to put myself together and I’m not totally ready to come back. Even though I missed home, my suffering but still amazingly beautiful country, my beloved Florence, my family, my friends.
I just wanto to use this time to write an open letter to what has become my second home, that I learned to see less with the tourist’s eyes the moment I start running.
My dear New York,
I remember the first time I saw you, it was summer 2009, I wasn’t really interested in you. I thought you were overrated, too famous and basically not what I was looking for in a city to visit. Nothing really old, not much history (as I intend history coming from Florence), all grey concrete, no colors, no trees, too much traffic (and again I’m from Italy so I know what traffic is). I flied by myself, my friends were waiting for me and the first thing I remember is the smell. The heavy, deep stink invading the air right out of the airport. And the closer we got to the city the stronger it was. You could’ve feel it penetrating your nose to the brain. It wasn’t the best first impression of course. And my friends really wanted me to see Times Square so we went there as first stop. I wasn’t impressed. Let’s be honest NYC, it’s just a bunch of big screens full of advertising.
We did all the touristy things in 10 days, I started appreciating certain things. Like the fact that really you can do whatever you want and nobody cares, or, like Phoebe said, you can find whatever you need at any time of the day and night.
The year after we went back and I had the chance to go around more by myself, finding out how many kind of museums you have, how many types of restaurants you have, the whole world for some reason decided to stop in New York City (or better start running). I fell in love. I got to talk to so many people, friendly people, I got to realize how easy it is to have an interesting conversation with a stranger and how that can give you an amazing whole new point of view on many things you were sure about or you never question.
And I came back two years ago, this time to stay longer, and again I fell in love. I fell in love with the colors this city che offer. The color of the world sparkle on the walls, from the restaurants, from every single little shop. I fell in love with how New Yorkers don’t care about anything and don’t even look at you but are ready to help in the nicest way if you dare ask. I fell in love with all the trees that are more than someone can expect, all the hidden green area you can find in the most unthinkable places, like the tiny little veggie garden in Williamsburg. I fell in love with the energy you can feel and I’m not talking about how fast people walk on the streets, I’m talking about the artistic and cultural energy that surrounds you every step you take. I fell in love with every single block, every single neighborhood, because you, my dear NYC, are to be taken one neighborhood at a time or you can be overwhelming.
And you can be the toughest city in the world, you can be challenging and always in a rush, not stopping for anybody, but the moment I started running I felt accepted by you, it was like you were telling me “there you are, you got it girl!”. I wasn’t annoyed by the stink anymore, I smelled the scent of the world instead. I didn’t see weird people around me anymore, just sources of inspiration and the beauty of being free to be who you want, because nobody cares. I learned to deal with how you’re never the same. How the places that were there yesterday today are just a memory. And you made me feel alone New York but then i realized that I was alone with millions of other people and that was enough to make me smile.
But most of all, at the end, what I will always bring with me are all those little lights. Because despite of what one can think New York City really shines, it’s full of little lights.
The little lights we see at night watching the city from Brooklyn or New Jersey, or from a rooftop (skyscrapers’ windows). The little lights on top of the bridges (of course not that little actually). The little lights of the restaurants and bars downtown and in every corner you wouldn’t think about. Chasing and watching little lights has become my favorite sport. Some people look at the stars, you don’t have stars in NYC, you have little lights. It’s like a modern fairy tale in concrete or a neverending Christmas.
For all these things I love you my dear New York City and I know you loved me back. I’m leaving you but don’t worry, I will come back soon. Keep shining NYC