The Shape of Me, a long lost lover’s tale of why you can never leave New York.
The cover of The New Yorker from September 12, 1994 sits across me on my bed. Unhinged from it’s cheap frame -the glass broken in transit, emerging as if out from within itself like a subway train gasping full speed out a tunnel for fresh air; or maybe it just really wants me to remember it’s there.
Stiltwalkers, we are New Yorkers, grazing a green field of skyscrapers like monolithic x-men, or clowns. Distortionism; this funhouse mirror-like effect pervading not only our minds but the very ground in its shimmery glass filled concrete beneath our feet.
Yes, I do recall feeling miniaturesque upon my first few weeks of having moved to New York City over a decade ago, contemplating my existence like a tiny speck moving like a dot on a Google map through an ever twisting empire of rubix cube squares - boxes, windows, towers, squares, stares, stairs, stares. I was nothing, it was Everything. If you shake a tree in the rainforest, the chances of discovering a species never before seen are not much less than nudging at a doorway in New York.
I shook a tree, or so I thought; a branch, a leaf, like the tiny butterfly somewhere on the other side of this planet that just brushed it’s feathery wing past a shivering peonie…
I lived there. Here. There.
Yes it’s true, it never leaves you.
I, much like this ever morphing giant city, continued in my own architecture this nebula like constant expansion and ever so slightly contracting, wandering the planet in search of my soul.
In a new town, remaining unnamed, I scour around corners at a quickened pace, playing a video game in my head as I maze my way around, in-between, almost underneath, and nearly on top of and beyond strangers, demanding of myself to never ever ever lose my New York speed. And I wonder if here where no one seems to need to rush, will this in the end make me faster, or slower, or just - a fool.
Need - yes - we begin to need the things we think that need us. Do I need the struggle to know that I exist? Do I need the hustle to know I am alive? Can we make it harder, can the grass grow stronger, can bronze statues make us even more powerful when memorialized?
Everyone knows San Francisco is a city of fog. It moves in and out like a suspended ocean hovering over land. What if land so unaturally hovered over water? Or if gardens grew on rooftops and houses grew like redwoods one atop the other towering in their dizzy heights, which is better: to climb to touch a cloud, or to bring one down to earth?
New York, New York, I miss every single thing you ever taught me about the shape of a square. An office window, an apartment window, a portion of a sidewalk, a doorway, a doorway leading home.
Everywhere else, I walk only in circles.
Written by my incredible, beautiful girlfriend:
-Mina Vesper Gokal