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A Letter to New York City

Flora Lange

January 7th, 2018

Dear New York City,

 

I have nothing to say to you. I thought we had a good relationship; I was almost in love with you. You are almost out of chances with me. I don’t care if you made miracles happen for me in the forms of making the heat work in my apartment or making the train come on time. Sure, those things would make me happy, but they aren’t personal. You can’t win me back with actions and small deeds you need to change your soul. None of this nonsense about how big businesses should replace all the small ones or how that neighborhood which was once for lower socioeconomic class people will benefit from having over-privileged people overrun their small town in this city. Once Lady Liberty meant something. You were corrupt and dirty then but you were open to everyone wanting to come. The city allowed every nation to take root. You gained culture you were bright you were alive there was sound and there was passion. Now what have you reverted to? Eighty-story-tall buildings filled with people who don’t understand what it means to work to have their cultures and identities heard. You have let culture fade into a small gray metal box hurtling us all to nothing beautiful. A gloss has been created everything diminished to be glass and metal and sleek and big and the same as everything else. A muteness has fallen over you. A quietness in the streets. A fear of disturbing the ordinary that you established has bled into your people. We sit on the subway in silence. There are some sparks of life and joy but there is a hushed quality to these sleek boxes you say make my life better. No graffiti showing color and individual's art. No. Just ads for companies that are all over the world. Not for us. Not for the people who choose to live in small quarters, who ride underground, who can’t stand places devoid of people, who care so much about some notion that you are the best city in the world. And you mistreat them. But maybe that is what makes you New York. Even when Lady Liberty welcomed immigrants they found themselves living in poverty with disease and death. But they knew this was New York! A city where you could be anyone. But maybe we are all just enslaved to this one massive city. We like the grind, the pulsing feeling that there are people everywhere and that there is something different about this place, that maybe we have found a place to make are lives mean something. Maybe finally we have found the greater power to put our faith into. Not a God, not a spiritual being, not a book, but a city filled with millions of people living apart from us but still sharing this geographical location. We are a people. A nation of sorts. A small land mass filled with the entire world. A great human experiment. And we try. God do we try for you. We crave the energy, the heartbreak, the newness, the old that we witness every day. And you are slipping. You want us all the same. But that is not why we worship you. Not for the sameness we could get somewhere else but for the isolation and the entire comradery of it. We don’t know each other, we don’t know how others live, but we know that they have bought into the same crazy idea that you are. And that allows us to all show ourselves. To be free from fitting a certain place or culture. Don’t lead us astray. You will lose. You are nothing without us don’t give us over to the corporations and to the pressures of other powers. That is not what you are. Please. I am begging you. This city makes me cry half the time, but whenever I leave it I don’t know who I am or where to go. I am a New Yorker and I want to keep being one. Please continue to allow me to express myself and allow us all to be alive not in the dimmed way. Allow our passion and our weird streaks and odd personalities to be accepted and encouraged.

 

Sincerely,

Flora Lange