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Native

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I’ve never been to the top of the Empire State building. I’ve been walking around on the streets of New York for thirteen years, not knowing what the herds of tourists come here to see. I don’t understand why they keep coming back if all they get in return for their visit is spit and rodents and the smell of hot garbage in the summer.

I feel as if I’m not allowed to claim that I dislike the city. It’s hit me so many times that people who are not from here just aren’t the same, and that it takes a stronger mindset to live and succeed in this place as opposed to others. Finding a career here is making it to the top, no matter what that job is.

I guess I could say that New Yorkers are the lucky ones, born here in a world of either privilege or misfortune. Nothing in between. We have access to so many things. The water that flows through the tap is cleaner than water anywhere else in the country, food is only steps away as long as you have a dollar, and no matter who you are, there’s always someone just like you.

So why do visitors from all over the world come if they know they’re not welcome? They’re not like us, they don’t belong here. They wander around helplessly, pretending they know where they’re going, with their flashy cameras and water bottles and big families. Tourists are the disturbance in the balance between the two kinds of people in New York. They are disruptive, they get in the way, they ask too many questions, they just don’t understand.

They should know that we are not kind here, that there isn’t anyone to help them find their way. Everyone is too busy to care.
It’s easy to fit in if you move here. The people here from so many places, that it’s sometimes hard to tell a real New Yorker from one who started life in the city weeks ago, that’s if they know their way around.

Here, public spaces are the most private, and the loneliest person is the one walking around Times Square, not the one stuck in their apartment on a Saturday night.

There’s no reason to assume that every New Yorker has been to the destinations that tourists go running for, because they, themselves, are the monuments that New York City couldn’t be without. Therefore, I’m not ashamed to admit that I have never been to the top of the Empire State building, I’ve never been in the Statue of Liberty, and I’ve never sat on the bleachers in Times Square. I plan to keep it that way.



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