I’ve always thought that there’s something captivating about roaming through the streets of a bustling city alone at night. With no particular purpose or destination, yet not aimlessly either, I get a swelling sense of content from watching the people around me move and moving with them. In big cities, night’s don’t always feel uncomfortable or sinister, especially from an onlooker’s perspective under the warmth and light of the streetlights, shop lights, billboard lights, car lights, bar lights… All of the lights. Maybe it’s the naïve child in me who simply enjoys the physical comfort of being around people. At the risk of sounding like an angsty, misunderstood Holden Caulfield, there is a meditative tranquility about being still in a busy place.
With three of four finals out of the way I thought I would take some time to reflect on the beauty of the city. Having been caged inside confined walls of concrete study rooms for nine to ten hours at a time for a straight week with pages of notes, flash cards and sympathy cookies baked by a friend’s brother who’s exams were long over, it’s easy to forget there’s a world outside of walls. I often catch myself reminiscing about memories of Hong Kong and New York – cities where the crowds are bigger and the lights are brighter, where the city feels alive and electric.
I fell in love with New York City in the fall of 2011, my first visit. The intricacy of the gridded roads, grandeur of luxury flagship stores on 5th avenue, mass lands for parks and buildings where colonialism met modernism – it all seemed otherworldly. I knew instantly it was the city I would, one day, love to call home. With a rough estimate on the whereabouts of Up/Mid/Downtown were, I was dead set on familiarizing myself with street names: play the part of the local New Yorker (although daily rides on GrayLine double decker buses probably gave my tourist status away).
Standing in the middle of Times Square, where the lights give off a false impression of day, it was hard to imagine living in a city so beautiful. Is there a point when locals become immune to its beauty? I don’t think New York’s novelty could every wear off for me. I guess, one day, we’ll see.