Welcomed by concrete, plastic, and a smell I couldn’t describe— chemical, gasoline, a bit melancholy and fluorescent, I first met New York at midnight.

These days I always wake up 3 am, Witching Hour, though nothing about my environment suggests dark secrets or comedies in underground tunnels.

Giant sunflowers from my uncle and aunt’s home in Staten Island— all comfort.

In trying to acclimate, I still grope for words. Maybe in crossing the Pacific, under the force of departure I disintegrated in two halves, bloated and eyes bloodshot, and am still trying to be whole again.

Monday, I roamed around Manhattan with my mom and uncle. It took my mind off the act of trying-to-be-one-again. It was a gloomy, rainy day, not the best day to roam, but maybe a reasonable light to see Manhattan with.

We visited the School of Visual Arts building, which honestly intimidated me. The day after, a Tuesday, my mom told me that we had, in fact, visited the back-door. The entrance was at the 24th, across NYU, where my aunt went to see her dentist.

Little Italy— Prospective home away from Home. (We’ll see real soon.)

After lunch, we stopped by the Asian Cultural Council office where I met with ACC Senior Program Associate Liz Behrend and saw their collection of artworks by former fellows.

My uncle taught me all the stops and streets in Manhattan. Tonight, I’ll try to venture out on my own and see it in another light. I’ll also be meeting up with a good friend, and I’ll see how this all goes.

I’m still processing plenty of things— things I never quite expected, accomplishments and all. I follow the shadows of anticipation and anxiety as I ease into Staten Island and Manhattan. Or do the shadows follow me? That tone is too edgy for me and I’d rather be the one chasing (away) my own emotions.

In a fit of vanity, I’d also like to note that all this walking around S.I. and Manhattan has decreased my back fat (hurrah).

At the World Trade Center complex.

My uncle took us to Rockefeller Center and the 9/11 memorial. Even in daylight, without the two beams of light, it was quite moving. How it is a symbol for both endless grief and hope. This photo does not do it justice.

I do plan to write more about this in length, once my headaches leave me and I get used to the new hours and the air.

The 9/11 memorial.
The Survivor Tree, 9/11 memorial.

We also visited St. Patrick’s Church, I had been telling my mom that we should go and that I wanted to pray there. We missed the 1:30 pm mass and I made a promise to myself to hear mass here more often once my schedule settles, too.

The architecture is exquisite, the experience delicious. The church was lit with lamps that were for me too bright, and I thought it might have something to do with the need to See-All, for surveillance. No body is left concealed. I am more used to dim, somber churches, so this is something new to me.

St. Patrick’s Church.

Expect more lengthy and evocative pieces in the next few weeks. I still have a few errands to do before the term begins. Thanks for reading.