It’s up to you, New York

When I was 11, I went on a gifted school trip to Washington, D.C. It was my first trip to the East Coast.

Me at the Lincoln Memorial in 1991

It was eye opening in ways I don’t think the teachers anticipated.

On a lawn, across the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I saw protesters in front of tents. One woman, alone in her protest, was there to fight nuclear proliferation. She seemed a little strange. But what struck me was her dedication to a cause far beyond that of her own comfort. It was the first time I’d ever seen anybody fight for a cause up close and personal.

Then we went to NYC.

Me on a ferry to Ellis Island, in front of the Twin Towers, 1991

We stayed in Hell’s Kitchen, where I saw people shooting heroin on the streets. The place was grimy and awful. I knew from grimy and poverty and sickness. In Mexico, it isn’t hidden. It’s part and parcel of the society.

We watched Fiddler On The Roof. Another eye opening moment about social injustice. And then Ellis Island where I got to see how immigrants were treated.

This trip for a naive little Mexican girl was a blessing. It punctured my bubble and taught me about perseverance. It taught me about city life. And it gave me hope of one day living in a place where people could make change happen.

I’m going back to NYC. I don’t know when, but soon. I want to be a part of it. New York squared. NYC, my home.

It’s robust. It’s full of pride and community and art and frenetic energy. It is the closet thing I’ve ever felt to being part of something.

I can make it there. And what I’m realizing is that the lessons it taught me allow me to make it anywhere. This Tucson refuge is only temporary. It gives me the rest and objectivity to get back there with full force. And hopefully something to contribute. It’s going to be gangbusters. You can’t defeat NYC. Not with terrorism or poverty or even a retrovirus. You can only stop it for a second. But it cannot be defeated.

I have an indomitable spirit and I need a place that will match my tenacity. It’s up to you, my city, New York, New York.

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