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  • I’m not going to tell you about how some supernaturally wise homeless man was able to change my whole life’s perspective. I did give one some loose change a few times, so that made me feel special.

    I will try to do my best Holden Caulfield and tell you what it was like living in New York City. You would think attempting to describe one’s experience living in the most storied city is ambitious. The endless amount of coming-of-age novels and movies—don’t forget Rom-Coms—have long lost the luster of telling a story set in New York City. It’s a difficult task, but I’ll give it a shot.

    Most days I would hop on the N train and ride to my work destination. There’s something about listening to music while riding the subway. The city had that effect on me due in large part to the amount of coming-of-age movies I’ve seen. Listening to some Notorious B.I.G or any generic alternative rock band—maybe some instrumentals—exponentially adds to this sensation. I try to find a spot where I can blankly stare so I can zone out and just think about my purpose. I never really thought about my “purpose” in this world. Maybe it was from being surrounded by the endless amount of ultra-successful, working individuals with their super brands of clothing. There was also no shortage of hyper hipsters. I grew to dislike them. They dressed so god damn cooler than everyone, including myself. They wouldn’t give you the time of day.

    On some days I would take the number 6 train to visit my cousin at his apartment in the Bronx. It was about an hour-long ride that would start from the posh SoHo neighborhoods and travel through the some of the worst neighborhoods in the city. It’s like witnessing a summary of what New York has to offer. One night I found myself all alone in the train car while riding through one of the city’s very worst neighborhoods, Hunts Point. This neighborhood ranked 67th (out of 69) in safest New York City neighborhoods. I was still a handful of stops away. It was uncomfortable.

    “How was the ride up?“ my cousin asks. “I was the only white boy left,” I said. “Puh,” he returned with a condescending smirk.

    This place is full of the nicest, most perfect, mediocre, bizarre, evil, beautiful, worthless human beings on the planet. Walking long distances in the city is like a scene from a movie. I could see half of these people being in a movie.

    In my downtime I would meet up with a couple of my high school friends, Jonathan and Neill, who were also living and working in the city this summer for the first time. We would usually go out every weekend and hit the nightlife. We tried to get different tastes of the city by going to a different bar each night, either around the NYU campus, Chinatown, or Brooklyn Heights. Most of these nights consisted of us rambling about our different experiences living in the city this summer or the existential, corny epiphanies we would have—after a few drinks of course.

    “Living here really makes you feel like a fucking speck in life,” Jonathan started off. “Yeah, everyone is living their own important lives,” Neill contributed. “This whole planet is a fucking speck,” I concluded.

    As I’ve said before, I enjoy coming-of-age films. When they’re good, they’re really good because they offer a new perspective from a unique character. In my mind, the classic coming-of-age character smokes a cigarette while walking the streets of some city—usually New York City—narrating insightful observations of his/her surroundings. I’ve always pictured myself being that prototypical character in my head., Not necessarily the cliché of realizing my place in adulthood—that already happened—but rather a chance to pretend I’m bigger than just a speck.

    Within my last couple of weeks of the New York City experience, I decided to buy a pack of cigarettes. All I wanted was one cigarette—that’s all. Later that night after hanging out at Neill’s dorm-style apartment, I decided to walk back to my dorm-style apartment instead of taking the subway. I whipped out a cigarette from my shamelessly purchased pack, lit the thing, and came of age.
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