Shrinking Cities


Having lived in other places has opened my eyes to how small the world can become after a while. When I was young, my parents moved us out of Queens. I went to high school in Puerto Rico, then attended college in Westchester County back in NY. After graduating college, I wound up picking the sketchiest neighborhood to live in the Bronx for a year, during which 9/11 occurred, and went existentialist on my life, packed my boxes and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah.

It took me about six months to find my people, the friends who would change and shape so much of who I became in my 20’s, and become part of a community. It felt special being a new person in a place I had zero ties to, looking to challenge and discover new facets of myself, and learning so many of these people were seeing each other for the first time in decades coincidentally. Turned out the girl who I was volunteering with at the library went to school with my supervisor, who played in a local band, and introduced me to his high school bestie, who we all met at the piano lounge a block away on Wed nights, where I accidentally recruited a stranger into the tribe because I thought he was already part it… and so on and so on and so on.

Like every great beginning, things tend to change in the middle and eventually people take different paths, lose touch, move on, and move away. On occasion, things come to a clear end. Supposedly social media sites were going to bridge that time gap, people didn’t have to lose touch anymore, and in small cities like Salt Lake, I ran into people I was avoiding like the plague every single time I stepped outside. It drove me nuts! I missed the anonymity of living in a huge metropolis like NY.

NYC is not so much bigger than SLC. More populated, sure. Busier, absolutely. But bigger? Not so much. After a night of wild drinking, passing out at my friend’s house, catapulting out of bed and into work wearing her clothes (about six sizes too small) only to run into a friend from middle school-junior high at my sister’s job. There I was, sitting in the lobby, when I heard my name and looked up to see a kid my best friend Elaine and I tortured relentlessly for years.

The anonymity was gone. While my crossings have been wonderful, it never ceases to amaze me when I think of the time and space of this city.

My list of random run-in’s goes on: I ran into my college friend and classmate Michelle, whom I hadn’t seen in more than ten years at the Rite Aid on Myrtle. I took a seat on the L-train next to my friend Andrea from kindergarten. My old supervisor Deanna walked into the office I was working in, we hadn’t seen each other in about 15+ years. My college friend Maitri and I had back-to-back appointments at the dentist… What are the chances we’d pick the same dentist, same day, overlap so we pass paths?

Do you think it’s more exciting to run into someone from your past or a celebrity you admire?

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