Let’s say that there is zero life out there, it’s only us, floating on a big blue ball hurtling through space. We’re all naturally self-indulgent and self-entitled creatures, so that makes our planet the most important place to be, in the entire of everything. So what does this mean? Well, at the centre of the universe lies New York City. There is only one place in the world you can be where you feel that; ‘this is where all of life is happening, and it’s as if all of life has always been here.’ On every avenue, on every street across the Five Boroughs there is someone from every nation in the world who calls this city home. With this, they bring a part of their own nation, it’s clear why the United Nations is headquartered in NYC. But a walk outside shows that this isn’t just a city, but a nation of its own. One incorporated and amalgamated from every part of our big blue ball.
The 10 Miles A Day
I think it’s fair to say that everyone grew up in New York City. It is embedded so deeply into world culture that everyone arrives in JFK Airport with a travel itinerary that’s been in planning since we were children. You get out at Fifth Avenue and feel entirely overwhelmed, so miniscule. In Manhattan city blocks stretch into vanishing points everywhere you look. When I first came here as a 21 year old my first thought was; ‘oh so now I get how Spiderman can move so easily and awesomely here.’ It is a Metropolis, and you will want to breathe in all parts of it. As a 21 year old, I soon learnt that I wouldn’t be able to do this underground. The subway is a great ride, but you’ll miss everything if you aren’t walking at least ten miles a day. It’s not like London where you’re travelling across great distances of just suburbs of houses. There is something everywhere, something every single step you take in NYC. It could be that little diner, or bar, or just something where a scene of ultimate romance takes place. A visit it to New York feels as though you’ve walked on stage and have become the main character in your own film. All set to the most incredible backdrop in the world.
Over the last ten years or so I’ve been to New York three times. On each of those occasions visiting the site of the World Trade Centre was a pilgrimage. The first time I was there it was a pit of destruction, a hole in the ground surrounded by a metal cage and no one had any idea what to do with it. This was transformed into one of the largest memorials in the world, and in the true American ‘Fuck You’ Style, New York’s now biggest building, The Freedom Tower stands commandingly over it. Throughout all this time though, it has been not just a memorial, but a place for people to make money. Everything that could possibly be created in Chinese souvenir factories is on offer; snow globes, fridge magnets, ties, anything that you can imagine, it’s all for sale. I’ve always wondered is this mourning for sale? Or is it out of some sort of western patriotism we need to buy into it? Nowhere in the world can you purchase into the memory of a terrorist attack, but this is New York. It is was always going to happen. Even on 9/11 there were film executives planning their b-grade garbage. Ten years later, this infamous day has become a part of history. Across the United States there are two ways in which it’s remembered.
There is this out of Texas, the theme songs to justify the invasion of a foreign nation;
Then this, from an entire generation of people to whom this day has little to no meaning.
For the rest of the world and the foreign visitor, everything seems to be caught up into some sort of confusion. Am I supposed to be sad? Or am I buying into this like it’s a theme park?
The End of the Line
New York was the conclusion to my journey across mainland United States. Each mile in this nation is as different as the last. But, regardless of where you go there is always a flag for sale. Californians, Texans, Floridans, as different as they all are, all have a love for their home, no matter how different their idea of it is. It’s kind of ironic, the only place I’ve been where the people are as fiercely patriotic is in Russia. Even the first tourists, travelling through Greece thousands of years ago realised travelling the world shows you how much people have in common. Maybe there’d be a lot less anger in the world if passport ownership was mandatory?