Fear is a tangible emotion. I can feel it. I can feel the emotion radiating off of every person I pass, bundled up in wool coats and cotton scarves and manifested desperation. We’re trying to be strong but we’re breaking.
I can see it in their eyes, the eyes that normally look away, never issuing more than a passing glance. I see the heartbreak, the sadness, the empty longing for something better. I feel it as we brush shoulders, a usually aggressive New York minute drained of composure and sulking with depression. Our lines have crossed as our battles seem lost and the city doesn’t feel so lonely.
But the city is worn. Heartbeats are accelerating. Blank expressions are falling uncontrollably into somber emotion. Whatever makes this city full of power seems to have been dismissed. On any other day, the strangers we pass ignite raging fires of passion and determination within us. Today these faces are nothing more than daydreamt outlines of lost hope. Their shapes are sunken, each neutral mouth drooping in submission of something bigger, something foreign. In New York we know sadness. We know loneliness. But this isn’t it. New York does not live here anymore.
The dark skies only add to the weight of the air. I feel it pushing my shoulders closer to the sidewalk as if it wants me to lie down in defeat. I consider. My lungs feel cramped with toxic air, so full of mixed emotion. I’ve never tasted such lethal energy. It seeps into my pores and makes my skin crawl. An unwelcome suppressor has invaded my home and I feel like I’ve been evicted from the place I‘ve come to love.
But I will not lie down. There is a battle to be fought.
New York will go on living. When the sun comes out and the tension lifts, my beautiful city will thrive on its ideals and morals. It will stand together by admitting it must step up and speak its mind. It will embrace each and every individual regardless of race, gender or sexuality. Every person will be spoken for and every person will be loved. It’s hard to imagine in New York, a city far too apathetic for its own good. But this city will come alive with color and light and love because it has no other choice.
We must defend what can rightfully be ours, a city free of oppression. New York is a place that knows how to mend a broken heart, a broken morale, and a broken infrastructure. We will prosper.
But we cannot succeed standing on divided ground. As we enter a new era, we must leave our anger behind and remember the benefits that come along with pure love. We must remember that no one can take away our faith and our ability to care unconditionally about each and every being. We must radiate with joy and compassion and hollow the air of fear by injecting it with warmth, comfort, and acceptance.
Our goals have not been derailed. We still stand strong in what we believe. It may take longer to achieve our ultimate destiny but it will not deter us from reaching unified equality, from perfecting a world where no one lives in fear of harm done by another woman or man. We will hold strong as a country that believes in the power of our voices and unsullied hearts. We will stand together because together we are everything. He is one man. We are millions.