I have a home in New York – 有一个家在纽约 – English

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There are three months left of my time in New York. I realised that I don’t want to go back anymore, at least, not so desperately. In order to prove that I have visited America and not just New York, I organised three months of non-stop travel to Washington, California, Princeton, Washington, Niagra Falls. We broken-heartedly watched the American dollars on our bank card continuously plummet. We clearly knew we would only receive back a pile of high definition photos that would most likely not be looked at again. Actually, I just want to stay in New York and clearly see how Spring and Summer comes around. I want to wear the second-hand MAXMARA I bought for 5 dollars when I first arrived for once. It is a beautiful piece of floral clothing, although it sits at an awkward length, too short for a top, and too long for a dress. I want to gather the courage to wear it bare-legged and take a photo standing at the rusty fence of the backyard, ideally with a large tailed squirrel or a fat yellow cat passing by. Only after having done that will I have the courage to say goodbye to New York on this midsummer night.

I live in the third biggest Chinese district. Without a doubt, an area where all Chinese people are gathered together is not a good area. Even though Americans similarly left Manhattan Island, Americans are more willing to live in Brooklyn, but not Queens. We have a female friend who, due to excellent results, was recruited to the best private high school in Manhattan Island on a full scholarship. That school is the same school in “Gossip Girl”. When she first arrived at the school, she absolutely could not tolerate living with all her Upper East Side classmates. She returned home and sadly said: “Mum, they all know where Italy and France are, but not one person knows where Queens is.” Living in a very typical poor area, I very quickly began to like attending this school, a few blocks away from filthy Broadway. Broadway has numerous, almost extinct townhouses of Manhattan. Each and every family has a small garage and small backyard. Stray cats have their own fixed shelter with people regularly sending cat food, or rigorously think of ways to catch cats and de-sex them. I became accustomed to stopping at the road whilst leaving the house or returning home to play with three identical spotted cats. They gradually recognised me. This pleased me significantly. New York similarly began to feel familiar with me and accepted me, not just the opposite.

Compared to Chinatown and Flushing Chinatown, it is much more tranquil here, whilst also having a Chinese supermarket with unbelievably low prices. The supermarket is not very big, but it is like a magical little room, where you can find everything you need. I have bought very authentic Shanghai bacon, cleanly washed intestines, even chopped up pig tails with a thick layer of fat under the skin. The supermarket always play pop music from the 80s. I was choosing frozen spring onion pancakes one day when I heard the song “Let us shake the sun, shake the sun together” and finally couldn’t hold in my laughter. There are quite a few Chinese dentists within two blocks. The receptionist looks either Korean or Mexican. The Chinese population here is no more than 40%, and I like to carefully identify what country passer-bys are from when I’m walking down the street. I can distinct clearly between Japanese and Korean, while I categorise Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese people all as southeast Asian. Women from Laos always wrap thick stripes of fabric around their head. Mexicans are usually fat, holding their children like a string of grapes. 5 and 6 year old girls look the prettiest, and unfortunately they grow fatter after the age of 10. I suspect that there is a tradition where they will have their ears pierced at a young age, young girls wearing exquisite earrings will make small

If we walk back for a bit we will see unregistered residences, with the only McDonalds in the area close by. Sometimes we would stop by to drink coffee and eat French fries. I should reasonably be afraid of the people there, but I don’t know where this fear comes from, seeing as we both go through quite similar life experiences. It’s just that they can wallop three hamburgers in one breath. After Michael Moore’s episode “Super Size Me”, the McDonalds in America got rid of their Double Big Mac. I feel like a lot of people would hate this director who is always worried for humanity. After all, isn’t eating until we become fat a God-given human right?

It was at this McDonalds that I finished writing this blogpost. I ordered a glass of fruit juice; the person across from me ordered a cup of coffee. The total did not even add up to three dollars. Living close to this area, you can do a lot of things with five dollars, like buy yourself three pounds of cherries or two bags of salted meat, or like what I’m doing now, which is sit at a noisy McDonald for a whole afternoon, and yet be able to bring home two dollars and a few coins back home. As I sit in the booth close to the glass door, I see a Mexican walk by; I see a man who I wasn’t sure was mixed or just sun-burnt walk by; I also see a man standing under the shade of a parking machine. I can’t tell where he comes from, I can only pay attention to the thick gold chain around his neck. Under the sun, this confused and somewhat dirty mess still makes me excited. Even the scattered napkins on the floor look like flying butterflies, because in the most recent three months here, I still have a home in New York.

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Source : Tianya

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact julien@marcopoloproject.org