After a long, protracted and somewhat painful process, I am finally leaving London to live in New York. After almost 40 years of residing in one of the most amazing cities in the world I’m off to relocate to an equally awesome home, that glittering, grimy, concrete, wonder jungle where dreams are indeed made.
I’m swapping the tube for the subway, I’m switching the pound for the dollar and I’m touching down at JFK straight into the arms of my husband who is the only other person in my life that truly knows the challenges that our two and a half year long distance relationship has presented.
I crave calm but it is city life I am drawn to, finding that amongst the rushing, racing masses there is some solidarity in our shared heartbeat as we cram on to trains and buses and pace the streets. We rarely make eye contact yet somehow we understand that we’re united in our quest to survive, feeling less lonely because the roar of city life tells us that even in our over exposed, de-sensitised daily being, we can still feel. We can still make it.
Cities are where the lost spirits congregate, where the roaming hearts reside. In the midst of the deluge of broken, brilliant minds, of crushed, chaotic souls, we try to piece back together the damaged parts and find out who we are.
The symphony of the streets has it’s own special sound.
The city sidewalks are privy to all of our secrets. They see the stampede of millions of feet that journey from one destination to another. They feel the excitement of hopeful youths just starting out on their life adventures. They bear the weight of the dejected star chasers who are still holding out for their moment of fame. They witness the loneliness of the restless who wander their paved stones far past midnight. They cradle the aching bones of the dispirited who have no other place to call home as they lay their heads on the same slabs of concrete that hold all the dreams Alicia Keys sings about.
It is true that city life can wear us down and chew us up before ungraciously spitting us out with no regard. But it can also carry us through. The machine that fiercely grinds with an immeasurable determination is a constant in our lives and it’s ability to rise up, even when it’s hit hard, is sometimes the only reassurance we have. It tells us that we too can resurrect ourselves, we can conquer what we think we cannot endure. We are able to find some comfort in the presence of the strangers that surround us because they too know our struggle, even if they will never know our names.
Cities are built on hope and promise. They are constructed on reservoirs of emotion and depths of feeling.
In the intricacies of stone structures and steel skyscrapers lie passion and pride. Piles of bricks are cemented together until they form landmarks that stand tall and become the backdrop to our stories.
The cities are brimming with all the beings that yearn to matter. The hungering crowds that are filled with a longing to put their stamp on the world. So many of us fretting that we will be forgotten. That we won’t make the history books. That there won’t be anyone left to tell our story. To remember what we said, what we dreamed, or how we loved.
We document what we experience, we blog, we Instagram, we tweet and we hope, oh how we hope, with a desperately tinged passion that at the end of our time we will be remembered.
The cities are our refuge. We’re afraid that if we venture to the wide open spaces then we might be more vulnerable somehow. We might be less because we won’t have the cover of the others that support our plight. Our crowded comfort blanket will be taken away and our reality will be evident in all it’s dark, stark glory.
Maybe we don’t want the scrutiny that a more solitary life may bring. Or perhaps the buzz of city life helps us feel alive. The familiarity of the noisy, organised bedlam is as much a part of us city dwellers as the blood that pumps around us, both of them being an essential part of our make up.
I think most of us are broken, in some way. Blemished. Tarnished.
Defective, maybe. I also believe that sometimes the shards of our broken parts hold their own unique beauty. Like shattered glass, the smashed splinters take on a whole new dimension when they find themselves as smithereens. They become a wonder in their own right. And when they are held up to the light, see how they gleam.
And then as well, much like a jigsaw, the fragments of our separated parts soon become whole when we slot them alongside the other fractured segments. Cities are a jigsaw of sorts, pieced together by each individual finding their own groove and then carefully placing themselves next to the people whose edges complement their own.
But in the end, what validates us? What is it that determines if we did it right?
I think perhaps part of the answer lies in the knowledge that no great story was ever born from a life that began and ended in perfect harmony. I guess we just roll with the punches and learn to survive. We stray to the places where our life force feels strongest and we keep ourselves plugged in to the mains that charges our soul cells.
Skylar Liberty Rose is a big believer in the healing power of creativity and the freedom found in living your truth. She is a writer, street photographer and yoga teacher with an emphasis on manifesting dreams through action and visualisation. Skylar is an advocate of stripping away layers of conditioning and instead discovering the person you are truly meant to be. She is inspired by souls with spirit and courageous hearts. Skylar grew up in London, and now lives with her husband in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter, FB, and her blog.
Featured image courtesy of Leon Cato.