The last time I was in New York, I was broke, unemployed and confused. While, not much has changed on that front, the city seems to have transformed a bit, and leaving it, I feel transformed, even inspired by the time spent with my friends. I'm not sure if it was Hurricane Sandy, or the ridiculous polar vortex we were stuck in, but New Yorkers seemed friendlier. Maybe I just got to see another side of the city. After three years of trying to survive the hustle of the Bronx, I was finally given the opportunity of experiencing another borough while staying with friends in Brooklyn. The only thing I knew about Brooklyn, like any other middle class sheltered kid, was the little i absorbed from Biggie smalls songs and Girls episodes. But Brooklyn is an enigma of New York. Its not the New York I remembered. People here don't push me out of the way, I hardly saw any suits, the MTA guy said hello to me and they sell granola at the bodegas, if you can still even call them bodegas in Brooklyn? I'm not sure. Brooklyn seems to be at a New York crossroads. The hipster empire is conquering Williamsburg and heading east, which I'm not even sure is a bad thing. But there are parts of old New York you can see walking throughout Bushwick. The big old industrial warehouses and empty shipping containers line several blocks telling stories from another time. Meantime, far and few in between, small cafes and shops are popping up, each preaching a different recipe and style. Hipsterdom gets a bad rep, but I'd so much rather grab a coffee at a local roast then a Starbucks and for now it seems to be the only adequate response to corporate growth. Of course, low income housing needs to be acknowledged and preserved, and I'm not sure if that is being addressed in Brooklyn at all. This pushing out of the lower class is happening all over the country, as the population grows and expands, those who can afford it move closer to the city while those who can't are pushed out further and further.
There was a lot more on my list than exploring Brooklyn. I inhaled an average of two slices a day of New Yorks finest pizza. I explored almost every museum Manhattan has to offer, and came across the lovely Pierpont Morgan Museum, the former house of the founder of J.P. Morgan & Co. Pierpont was an avid collector of the arts and literature and built his legacy not only on banking, but on building a collection of rare and invaluable treasures. In this museum you can see the original handwritten draft of the Christmas Carol by Dickens, manuscripts by Twain and Steinbeck, music sheets handwritten by Mozart, a letter written by George Washington, and three of the fifty surviving Gutenberg bibles. There are plenty more of original documents that I never even knew existed, and they rotate every three months. Scholars and students apparently can make an appointment to view Morgan's archives and see much more.
The rest of my time in this wild chaotic city was spent staying warm and catching up with old friends. I have found the years after college to be the most interesting and pivotal times. Each of my friends have chosen a different path and all seem to be constantly reflecting which path is the right one, which I find is quite common with millennials. We are the generation that grew up with the technology boom and the economic collapse. Because of these circumstances, we are the generation that won't settle, that will constantly be pushing the boundaries and questioning the limits. But each and every one of my friends has a dynamic job that will lead to an enriching life. Each one inspires me; the friend who leases real estate in Paris, or the one who gives kids from the inner city an equal opportunity to succeed at a charter school, the one who is helping to build New York's first aqua farm with a sustainable real estate company, or the one who moved all the way across the country because its something she always wanted to try; the friend who talks about applying to grad school in Copenhagen, and the one getting a PHD in psychology, or the friend who wants to see how far his car will make it to South America, the one who wants to pursue acting, or writing, or developing office buildings that are innovative, or the friend who wants to eventually work at the UN in international education. This is the generation of leaders. These are the interesting ones; not the ones who fit the millennial stereotype of lazy or self-entitled. They are the go getters AND the dreamers. No one seems to want, or is ready to, settle in the job they have. This is something that makes our generation so great. The pursuit of something thats not just a job, but a fulfilling career. An ability to work to live, not live to work. It may be idealistic, but its opportunistic as well. Is it the next greatest generation? i guess time will tell.