The Greatest

This morning I was in a bus on my way back home from the beach after a weekend of fun, and after a good hour of sleep I woke up to realize we were almost arriving at the bus station, and as I looked out the window the greatness of the city hit me. The skyscrapers, the bridges, the tunnels, even the bus station, everything here is greater and grander than any other place in the world, but not in a show off kind of way, this is a city that wasn’t designed to be that way, it just happened.

But the city’s greatness is not limited to the city itself, the city is only this great because of the people in it, because the people here always worked harder than anywhere else, the people here were the people from everywhere else, people who arrived here with no money and the will to survive, the will to start fresh and rebuild their lives, because talent here is appreciated and recognized, because from the start, years and years ago the city was built by great people, and they set the bar really high, and that was it.

Location was important too, whoever had the idea to come here was really smart, this piece of land is nestled in the heart of the universe. Whoever got here first also set a precedent for the prices we deal with now; the prices we deal with now, however, only seem to matter in the beginning, when you first start paying rent, because after a while you feel like what you pay is quite all right for such a great place to live in.

What other city in the world is as great as this one? Culturally there’s nothing like it. The theaters are always packed, filled with energy and great productions, everyone wants to perform here and the audience loves it. The Broadway shows are filled with charm and again, greatness. The museums are innovative and always open to new ideas, filling their hallways with old and new blood side by side making for a great experience. The streets are also part of the culture, there is street art, street dancing, street music, street performances and pop art, everywhere. Even the way some of the billboards are made are still very old-school, someone is paid to go all the way up there next to a tall building wall and paint the adds that you will be looking at for the next two weeks and feel like they were printed by machines on paper to be glued on that very wall. But they weren’t.

If you want to travel in the summer, there are endless options of beaches to get to within a 6 hour drive, it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are or how long you’re willing to travel, you can get there easily, by train, bus or car! In the winter you can also go up to the mountains for snowboarding and that’s not a big stretch either. You can even cross the border and go to another country if you want to. You can get to Boston or D.C. if you’re in the mood for a different capital. All within those six hours. You could go to a different place every weekend if you wanted, and never get too tired.

Here you can also hop in an airplane and within 8 hours you can be in any major European city, or in the middle of the Amazon, or enjoying tango in Argentina. You can also opt to stay in American territory and visit your friends all the way in the west coast or maybe try your luck in Vegas, or even see the greatness of the grand canyon and the glaciers of Alaska.

Here is the city that truly never sleeps, here you can get a slice of pizza at any given time, you can also go shopping at 3am if you feel like it, or you can go dancing to jazz, salsa, dance or samba music at the endless night clubs available. If you’re up for a more quiet and natural experience you can go bird watching at the Central Park, said to be one of the richest natural environments for wildlife in a big city. You can go ice skating, you can go to times square to look at the signs that are so bright that they fill the sky with light and erase the stars, you can cross the bridge into the next door neighborhood and see the postcard skyline live and filled with energy, like no picture or movie on earth could reproduce.

Here is where everyone wants to be, and also where everyone is welcome to be. Here there are no boundaries for you to be whoever you want to be, you can be black, white, yellow or red, you can be Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish, you can be gay or straight, married or divorced, fat or skinny, you name it, you can be it, there is a place for you out here.

This is New York, the greatest city on earth, the city that made me feel like part of the world, because this city as problematic and complex as it may be, as any other large city is, still manages to be in peace, still manages to show the world what the world could be like, a peaceful piece of land, where its citizens care for the environment and each other, where people live together in unison, where its narrow streets make you feel like you belong and its large avenues can show you the beauty of a sunny day, be it summer or winter, the sun always manages to come out to bathe us in joy. In New York there is no room for mediocrity, here is the land of the great, and as Frank would say, if you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere.

This is New York, the Big Apple, so come on in and take a big bite at it.

Author: Gabriel Ruas Santos Rocha

writes for passion, eats for pleasure, travels for wonder.

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