you can be sad and lonely, even in new york city (nyc day 8)
My dinner plans with an old coworker fell through today. Under normal circumstances I probably would have just enjoyed the time alone, but I was (am?) not feeling so good after spending two days working inside all alone. It sounds obvious but sitting miserably alone is the same whether I'm in New York or suburbia, a fact I probably overlooked (or purposely ignored) before I moved. My sadness takes a different flavor in New York, though—in the suburbs it seems like there's nobody else out there to befriend, but here it's patently clear that plenty of other people do exist, but they just have better things to do than hang out with you, especially when you're heartbroken and depressed.
To lift my mood I decided to make the most of the last day on my 7-day unlimited metro card to go downtown. I took the J train to King Dumplings (74 Hester St, New York, NY 10002) for a cheap dinner of 10 fried chive & pork dumplings ($4) and 100 frozen ones to take home (50 for $13). The dumplings here are deliciously meaty and very affordable. They remind me of home, even though the ones my mom makes look prettier and feature a higher chive-to-pork ratio. The bluntness of the cashier that borders on harsh reminds me of my mom, too.
As I wander around Chinatown, trying to get lost but not too lost lest I get home late, I find myself missing my
ex time in Chile and thinking about how deceptive memory can be. Like I am now, I was definitely unhappy with my job and occasionally lonely and bored on weekday evenings, but when I look back I can't conjure up those feelings anymore. Maybe this is how memory protects us, by dimming the pain and unpleasant feelings and imbuing our memories with a rosy hue. I don't think this is helping me now though, because all I can seem to do now is rue the bygone happy memories with my ex, rather than focus on the cold hard truths of how we fell apart.
I chose to visit Chinatown because it's one of the less dangerous neighborhoods in Manhattan for my wallet should I succumb to my cravings, but as I walk through the narrow alleys I find myself feeling more like a foreigner than ever. I don't even try to speak Mandarin when I order from restaurants here, a habit which strikes me as odd because I'm never afraid to speak in Spanish, even when the going gets difficult. I suppose because people expect me to speak at least a little Mandarin from the way I look, I'm afraid to open my mouth and embarrass myself. There's a lot of emotional baggage to unpack here, especially the hatred for my own culture borne from a rocky relationship with my parents, but I'm starting to realize that growing up is about forgiving: your parents, your ex-lovers, your friends, and everyone in between. I guess Chinatown, with its illegible signs and beckoning smells, is a good place to start reacquainting myself with a culture that feels both intimately familiar and impossibly foreign.
I've been listening to Hatefuck by Cruel Youth a lot recently. I love this song—it doesn't have the best lyrics, but the palpable pain in her voice speaks to my soul.
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