Love Your City: New York, by John Chong
Love Your City is a series where people share stories about their city and what it means to them. Here is John's experience with New York.
Many of the things that make New York City are gone. When New York City was in her hour of need, New Yorkers left her. I’m glad I stayed with her. I used this time to reflect and participate in things that brought me peace. During COVID, running became a passion of mine. With time, my runs became long runs throughout the week. 5 miles turned to 10. 10 to 15. 15 to 20. I would run the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan with excitement and be in awe of her as I ran along the East River into the southern tip of the island and then along the Hudson River.
Back in March in 2020, it was impossible to know what New York City’s recovery would look like. I went out of my comfort zone and started practicing meditation. I’ve been meditating daily since then. During the summer of 2020, I would ride my bike to a park in Greenpoint in Brooklyn a couple of times a week and lay out my blanket on the grass and meditate in silence. I’m forever grateful for those moments of peace and knew New York City would come back.
On August 12, 2012, I moved out of California to New York City. Prior to COVID, everyday I felt like a transplant and most days I had to remind myself that “I’m living in NEW YORK CITY.” During COVID, I witnessed New York City shut down around me – around all of us – and despite how grim I felt, I witnessed how tough New Yorkers were everywhere I looked. During the height of COVID, New Yorkers would cheer on essential workers at 7 pm. Being a part of that experience was powerful. Hearing the sounds of people clapping echo throughout New York City was a beautiful moment. There are signs that she is slowly re-emerging. They’re baby steps. But, one step at a time. New Yorkers are a tribe of people and we bring a particular beat to the city. I finally feel like a New Yorker. I’m proud to call New York City home. Brooklyn stand up.
Lead image by William Warby
Words and second image by John Chong