New York in my memories has prolonged summers, yet has cheerful winters. That is the thought I have when I begin the title. Permanency has resided in the scorching summer. Although winter is the iconically long-lasting season in real life, like the Empire State Building and Chrysler, I had always felt New York was warm in the winter.
I still remember how I hitched a train from New York to New Haven amidst winter, maybe around six years ago, coming back from the arrival of NY Christmas season while participating in a high-school event at Yale. I only wore a single suit and half skirt with most of my legs exposed in the snow. I
was very young. I had many dreams. I was busy competing with the top students for the Yale prize, and I was amazed by the madness of New York. My body was cold – I was shivering and resting by the window for I was too frozen to move. However, in my head, it was a fervent potluck. I had excessive passions, and there was a fire burning from my chamber for the wonder of the top of the world.
Years passed, I lived in New York and left New York for winter break last Christmas. I had a sense of dismay. New York was cold, and I was shattered by my dreams as my first New York-based venture failed. My winter break later led to a grand voyage and exploration about Persia and more about our diverse and beautiful world. In a way, leaving New York for a few months worked out.
When I returned to New York, after months of drifting, I found certain conversations in New York.
I bumped into these groups of bro friends in a networking event and caught on dinner with them as a natural follow up of afterwork drinks. One of them said, “Yo bro, New York is dope. I wish I can make it here.” Before this young one makes it here, all the other guys have made New York home, dubiously. Because they are all young, being in New York means a corporate job they have to rely on 5 days out of a week.
Later on, I met lovely New York native entrepreneur Daniel Silverstein, model Lola, designer Cui Xu, big PR entrepreneur, and many more among the friends, colleagues, acquaintances, roommates, strangers. Many of them do not come from New York, and many of them young, like the 70% of the people in the state. They come here to chase a dream. We all followed the proverb, preached by New York-made Sean Corey Carter, i.e., Jay-Z, you make it here, you make it anywhere.
For a long time, it was the gospel of every ambitious person in the country and in the world. One moves to New York City to see the most apparent, hectic, and feverish energy and heats rising from the ground to the sky. The summer of New York can be hellish as the temperature can easily go up to 90 to 100 F. It should not be a surprise that one takes a subway at Bedford Ave, there is always a guy shouting to the poker face pedestrians, “Hell, hell, you all are in hell! You all go to hell!”
For the New Yorkers, they have seen enough of scary and bizarre moves. They cheerfully sip into their iced Ervin Farm coffee, or anything from the independent coffee shops instead of Startbucks, and walk into the AC-ed subways to meet friends for lunch.
Focus is the key of New Yorkers: knowing exactly what they want, and ignore the things that won’t make them there.
As millennials are moving away from the traditional hot-shots mega cities, Philadelphia, Atlanta alike have seen a sharp rise of newcomers, both domestically and internationally. Yet New York will be forever there. One may move away from New York to avoid deep competition and insane housing price, but one comes to New York City exactly to climb that echelon and for the prize paid with a price.
Sometimes, I ask myself why would someone come to New York? The place seems to be too hot for summers, too cold for winters, too dirty for living, too stressful for working, too boring for Nature, too out-of-reach for non-millionaires. However, that hope to succeed has extended its tentacles into the settlers’ brains . Does everyone that come to New York make it? In the too-real LGBT documentary movie Paris is Burning, characters came to New York dreaming to go somewhere. Some made it there, some did not, due to various reasons uncontrollable and rooted into personality. One of the major personalities dreamed to be a complete woman one day, and at the end of the movie, this lively figure has been found tied to the supporting poles under the bed in a dingy hotel 3 days after her murder. We have just watched a 90 mins portrait of her dream and her life leading towards that dream, before ending has come too quickly and brutally.
Eventually, I understand why summers in New York are unbearable, winters in New York are cold, cold enough that I often do not feel the winds as my eyebrows are locked in my own thinking. I remembered the time my then-business partner from my first venture walked with me in where she lives, which is the FiDi I hate, she said, New York is a manmade city. Later on, at the dismantling speed of our venture, she partially chose and partially was forced to leave Big Apple, unsupported by the unravelling of a venture dream, and supported by her alternative ambitions. I can now say yes to her words.
It is a manmade city – the ambitions of people have built the fervor of the summers, the strong will of people have made winters negligible. Despite one can probably reach moderate success more quickly and comfortably elsewhere, one chooses to come to New York for the big bet. Many would agree with me, they come to New York not to dream of becoming a mildly successful person, but a greatly achieved figure. To do so, they are willing to bare the loss: rent, youth, relationship, family, comfortable living.
With an average earning of $141k in New York, urbanites can easily live beyond comforts elsewhere. Yet they choose to keep pursuing the rat race of chasing excellence, up to the next bigger thing, the next better job, the next more perfect spouse, the next of next of next hopes and dreams.
Thank for the invitation by LGBT Association in Beijing for the movie night of Paris is Burning at DADA Bar.