In the 1980s and 1990s, it was totally possible to wander New York City for hours without spending a penny.
This is how I grew up, ducking turnstiles or cobbling pennies & nickels together to buy tokens, which were a dollar. I had a bag of Doritos and a quarter water (it’s corn syrup and red or purple dye) for brunch on a Saturday before I would take the #2 train downtown to 42nd Street. I never had anything to do, or anyone to see. I was just a scrawny, curious kid.
I met a lot of random characters this way over the years, but they were all benevolent. Some were ex-cons, some were priestesses, others were poets. They shaped the way I thought about the world because they kept me from ever feeling completely lonely. You know how people say that you attract people into your life who are like you in some way?
I don’t know how true that was. I met drug dealers & basketball players & movie stars. Malik Yoba, Russell Simmons, Tyson Beckford — just walking around in the Village without enough money to buy dinner, so I had to go home before I passed out from hunger.
I think about these adventures because I never felt like I needed to call anybody to just wander. I always believed that I would find what I needed if I followed my gut and went off in the direction of my curiosity. I only ever felt completely alone and lonely in the middle of crowded platforms, when I saw other girls my age laughing with their friends or at night, when I passed crowds going to movies or doing something I was distinctly not a part of.
That’s why when I read this Elephant Journal piece, I liked it. Hope you like it, too.