Three years ago on April 1, 2020, I moved to the greatest city in the world – New York City. I moved into an empty guesthouse in Bedstuy, Brooklyn thanks to the gracious owner who was willing to risk his life for me, and with whom I remain friends to this day. We were both risking our lives, because I moved to the greatest city in the world at the very moment the pandemic crescendoed, when it was the epicenter, when 1,000 people were dying everyday. And, truly, the journey was the most terrifying experience of my life. Most notably, my arrival at Penn Station, alone, dragging along a duffel bag too heavy for me to carry, with a guitar on my back. I couldn’t control my shaking. I was so terrified walking through the hollowed out train station, mostly devoid of humans who were sheltered at home, and I absolutely could not conceal my fear. I felt like a moving target. And I looked like a moving target.
But my first encounters with those few New Yorkers at that terrifying time was the furthest from what I feared. The folks on the subway saw my struggle, and they went out of their way to help me. I find New Yorkers often do this, regardless of whether there is a deadly pandemic in crescendo. I believe it’s because we know that life here is not easy, but it is glorious, and it collectively makes all our lives better when we’re able to reduce the burden even a little bit for our neighbors. And that’s what happened to me on the subway on April 1, 2020. That duffle bag probably weighed as much or more than me. It was packed to the brim with dry goods and staple foods, since nobody knew what our future held. Even under those dire circumstances, New Yorkers still went out of their way, potentially risked their lives, to help me, a girl dragging her most prized possessions and a bag of rice through the subway. Trying to find her way “home.”
Two individuals helped me carry the duffle bag. One assisted me up the stairs, the other down the stairs, and both disappeared on their own life path instantly afterward. One of them asked if I would like help, the other didn’t even bother, and my heart leapt when I felt my burden become lighter, only to find a large man had grabbed the bottom handle of the duffle so it wouldn’t crash down the stairs. The guesthouse host met me at the Gates J Stop and walked me to my new home. It was dark by then. He gave me some masks, a little hand sanitizer on a keychain that I refilled and kept for years afterward, and kind words. Then he left on his journey. And I was alone, left to find home.
Home is what I found. It wasn’t instant or easy, but I found true love in New York City, my husband Dang Anohen. I found our little townhouse in Greenpoint. I found my little job at our little boutique record label (with Dang’s help). We found our little skin cats, Koshkii and Princess Margaret Patcher. And I didn’t even know what exactly I was looking for when I came here. I just knew something in my heart had always called me to New York City, since I was a little child watching Oliver & Company and admiring the brownstones, since I discovered St. Marks Place as a teenager, since every tour that passed through as both a roadie and the performing artist.
I have never felt more “at home.” I feel so grateful for my life and my family – something more beautiful and more complex than my dreams could have ever created.
I ❤ New York City.