A Chinese international student, Buyi Wang's time in NYC has been strangely cut short by Coronavirus. In his tiny Manhattan apartment, he can wander the city he loves only in his memory. He feels he has perhaps already said goodbye; but he knows the city will go with him.
Manhattan in shadow. Creative Commons photo by Maxi Rottenwaller
I have always known that I love New York City. Nevertheless, my love for New York becomes more apparent to me during this Corona-virus outbreak.
One of the things that I love most about New York is the diverse kinds of food you can access here. I often enjoy going to a new restaurant after a long day of school or a long week, sometimes with friends and other times alone, so both my body and soul can be nurtured by the delicious plate of food in front of me and the culture that the dish harbors. Through the diverse food and culture, New York tells me that there are millions of ways and possibilities of living joyfully in this world. Unfortunately, the outbreak means I can no longer go to restaurants anymore. Instead, I have to stay in my small Manhattan apartment all day, being shut away from the life that I used to know. I miss the halal food cart that I always went to on Union Square when I was a freshman at the university. I miss the Chinatown dim sum place, where I have gone so many times that all the workers there know me and treat me as a VIP. I miss the Japanese sushi place near my university, where the staff is so friendly that they ask to help you every ten minutes. I miss the New York that I am familiar with.
'New York tells me that there are millions of ways and possibilities of living joyfully in this world.'
As a person that also loves the street of New York, I also miss all the street events that I used to pass by everyday: the pianist at Washington Square Park, the fresh farm-made yogurt sold on Union Square Green Market, the vintage flea market on Stuyvesant Street and so many more are what make New York New York. Now, with the pandemic, nothing is going on on the street anymore. Thus, an essential element of New York City life is missing.
Staying at home also means that I cannot physically socialize with my friends anymore. It is no secret that New York is regarded by many as one of the most lonely cities in the world. Nevertheless, during this outbreak, many of my friends have reached out to me to check whether I am okay and to video chat with me so I don't feel lonely. I realize for the first time that maybe New York is not as lonely and ruthless as people have described. It is a place I would remember, because I have so many friends here and it is a place that would remember me, because I have developed a true connection with people that live here.
At this time, it is hard for me to imagine New York City after the outbreak has passed. I may already be back home by then. Nevertheless, I am sure that it is still going to be a city full of love and tolerance of different kinds of people. After the outbreak passes, those various restaurants will open again and people can once again experience the diverse culture of New York City through food. The street would be filled by performers and flea markets again. New York City will continue showing people that there are millions of ways of living in this world, and you don't need to stick to one to pursue your personal joy.
Buyi Wang is a Chinese international student studying in New York.
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