“At eighteen years of age, I dropped out of college and moved to New York City. It was 1989. The city was scary to me at that moment. The lower East Side seemed to have drugs sweating from its pores. Prostitutes actually walked the streets. You could see them in their fur coats and garter belts purring around the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel… and that was the “nice” part of town. Brooklyn was as far away as Istanbul. Walking up from the subway at Times Square was like stumbling into a gang fight. That’s what it felt like to me. What is strange is that I LOVED IT. I loved it all. It was humanity on full display: pimples, sweat, love, heartbreak, addition, brilliance, despair, and bliss. It was terrifying, but it was genuine and without pretense. There was no doubt that when you stood with both feet in NYC you were in the center of the universe.
The authenticity is harder to see these days, as the world seems to be owned entirely by three or four people. The same chain restaurants, newspapers, TV shows, video games and advertisements follow us everywhere. We are never lost. The computer in our pocket vibrates and there is somewhere we are “supposed” to be. We are made to be comfortable at all moments, but, for me, there still is that scratchy feeling in my gut where I long to see under the surface, to know, and to be known. If I’m not lost how can I be found? Without fear how will I be courageous? I want to stay up late, high from the connection I’ve made with another traveler on the road. To see deep into someone’s eyes, not just hung up on the eye “make up” or the “face-life,” but to see something real.
It’s all still here… it’s just hiding like we are.”
– Ethan Hawke on New York