406 posts

#575 Maya


@Maya.Ashke – “People always say that when you move here you take a bag full of dreams that you try to achieve.

I must admit that I didn’t know exactly what those dreams were, and yet I decided to do everything in order to cross the ocean and join the millions of people.

One day I was walking home from work feeling satisfied that I conquered many of my goals: Good job, apartment in the city, fun roommate… I have a habit of not listening to music while I walk. I know it isn’t a typical thing to do but I like to feel the atmosphere, languages and people around me, it makes me feel a part of them. That is when I saw an old lady in her 70s I assumed. She was about 4 ft tall, very thin, dressed up with an old pair of jeans and a simple t-shirt. It was Friday; the lady carried many bags from Whole Foods market and looked like she was rushing to cook dinner for her family. I always like to stare at people and try to figure out what their story is (or make up my own). While I was looking at her she stopped me for no reason and started telling me about her life growing up in the city. She said how glamorous her life seemed (“I was in every underground concert in the East Village”) and how many struggles she had (“I married a pig. He is a pig because he cheated on me”). Apparently she wasn’t late to cook dinner so this conversation lasted for about an hour since I wanted to know all about her crazy stories- she was filming bands and visiting the Woodstock festival!

At the end of the conversation she couldn’t thank me enough for listening and I came to one conclusion, I need to be grateful for every minute I spend here, while growing old with the courage to tell so many stories. Before this encounter I was convinced that the feeling of self fulfillment in the city is measured by the same routine that everybody has like friends, job, gym and apartment. Perhaps she was lonely and wanted to talk, perhaps she felt the duty of encouraging a younger generation to take actions. All I know is that on this day I found a hobby… I decided to buy a camera and started to capture the city from my perspective”


#572 Elece


@EleceGreen – “Why do I love New York? Because ANYTHING can and does happen in this city. In fact, that is one of the only constants in this metropolis that vibrates with the kinetic energy of change. Stand on a corner long enough, and you’ll probably see one of the following: A) That dude with his pet cat riding on top of his head, B) A pigeon pecking at a chunky puddle of vomit, or C) A celebrity trying—with varying degress of success—to blend in. Blending in was exactly what Doug Liman was doing when I recognized him back in 2003 on a Brooklyn-bound N train. There he sat across from me, famed director of THE BOURNE IDENTITY, looking very much like any other exhausted New Yorker commuting home from a grueling day on the grind—were it not for the expensive Director’s viewfinder hanging around his neck. I couldn’t resist: I had to introduce myself, if only for the novel coincidence of having just reviewed his audition tape for QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY that very afternoon (I was a casting assistant on the show at the time)! Though he could have easily dismissed my unsolicited conversation with icy efficiency, Mr. Liman was instantly warm and disarmingly effusive—if not a little bit “left of center.” But he regaled me with insider stories about the movie business, about Brad Pitt’s injured Achilles tendon on the set of his current project, and his wasted buddy who had fallen from the rock wall in his Tribeca apartment living room, crashing into things as he swung wildly from the climbing rope. He even showed me his viewfinder. And the whole time, a voice in my head whispered, “How is this happening?!” Conversation took us all the way into Brooklyn, where we both realized we had missed our Downtown Manhattan stop, and headed back in together. As we ascended the stairs at City Hall, he turned to me and said with astounding nonchalance, “Well…um…I should probably get back to my car—I left it unlocked with the film camera and Day 1 of MR. AND MRS. SMITH in the trunk. It was nice to meet you.” And with that, Doug Liman, Hollywood director, turned and wandered into the night.”


#570 Val


@ThatGirllVal – “One day in Bryant Park I was talking to my son I noticed a sense of fear with uncertainty in his eyes. At the time I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter, my relationship with my partner ended and I was working a minimum wage job that had no room for growth. With everything against me I felt like a failure. That day I ordered my son a hot chocolate and we sat outside to take in the ambiance. At that moment I asked if I could take a picture of him. He hesitated and asked why. I told him that this moment would be the last time last time he will ever feel that way and to please never forget what I just said. I apologized for all the mistakes I have made in our lives. I promised him that we will never be homeless or broke again. I looked into his eyes and swore to him that he will always be able to lean on me and that I will do everything in my power to improve our situation now as well as the future. After my promise I decided to take charge of my life, put my family on my shoulders and push forward. I did not want my children to experience life the way I did. So I went back to school, worked part time and networked with people in the career I wanted to pursue.

Over the next few years with hard work and dedication, I would eventually have an amazing and rewarding career. A career that also allowed me the time to pursue my passions on the side. Which is fashion blogging, directing editorial shoots and working as a freelance makeup artist . Today I have my own place, my own car and debt issues are a thing of the past. Till this day, my sons photo in Bryant park sits on the fridge in our kitchen. As a constant reminder to me. I will never let those experiences happen to us again.

If I learned anything from living in a New York my whole life, is that ANYTHING is possible. You just have to put your heart and soul into it. There are so many inspiring individuals around you that it would be insane for you to say you can’t become a better person here in New York City. All you have to do is look around for inspiration. We as New Yorkers have that extra drive and dedication in our pursuit to happiness that we will always have a story to share.”


#569 Sindhu


@FiftyShadesofSin – “When I was on my way to lunch somewhere in the Flatiron district, a friendly woman who I didn’t know approached me and started speaking to me like I was her long lost friend. I did not understand the language and the only thing I understood at the end of the conversation was the word, ‘Espanol?’ and I responded to her stating that I do not understand Spanish. After my reply, she could not believe that I actually was not Spanish. She was so amused! She could speak only a little bit of English and asked me why I don’t know my mother tongue. I had to explain to her that I am from India and other than English I can speak 2 regional Indian languages, ie: English and Hindi. She said ‘That’s great but you look like one of us! Maybe you could learn Spanish!’ and I said ‘Why not?’ And believe it or not, in the span of 24 hours, this happened twice to me! with 2 different ladies of course :). That day really made me smile and think that after all, here in New York City, we are all global citizens who are in this beautiful city to spread smiles!”


#567 Alexa


@Alexa_Messer – “My twin sister and I moved to New York City the summer after our senior year of High School. We were so eager we skipped our graduation ceremony and hopped on a plane instead. I remember that day we arrived. We were both so excited, hopeful, yet still nervous. After months of trying we finally signed our first lease to a studio apartment on the Upper East Side. We barely had any money between the both of us so we decided to always walk everywhere. There was an especially hot day during the end of that summer and we had walked through the park to the West Side. On our journey back the sweltering heat was too much to bear. A man named Sonny on a pedicab stopped us and offered us a ride. After expressing to him that we had just moved here and didn’t have any money he got a huge smile on his face and said he would bike us to the East side of the park at no charge. The three of us exchanged small talk and that small talk led to us telling tales and stories of our journey moving to New York and why we decided to move to this magnificent metropolis over anywhere else in the world. When we asked him why he moved to New York City he gave us the best answer I have ever received on the topic. Sonny said “I moved here because life is about dreaming”. It’s kind of a cool notion, that we are all here because our hearts and minds desire something so bad and that wherever we came from was just too small or mundane for our imagination. It’s like we are all connected in that way. I’ve learned in New York that we all have had a struggle to move and survive here and I believe that makes us want to reach out and help each other.”