There are times in New York when I feel alone, anonymous, and it is the most exhilarating and liberating feeling in the world. I feel strong and powerful, alive and full of possibility. I feed off the energy of strangers on the street, recreating myself moment by moment.
But every now and again, I feel alone in New York, and it is the most empty, existential feeling in the world. I become aware that I will die alone. I count the people who do not care if I exist at all. It gets quiet, and I start to hide. I call friends. They don’t pick up. I wait to be recognized.
When a bird flies by, I check to see if it is Teka, but it is not. I stand amidst concrete streets and concrete buildings waiting with my heavy backpack and white dress pants for a train to work. I press my coffee mug against my lips and imagine Lynn’s face. Asha’s laugh. I look for a gazelle with graceful hind quarters and stoic, winding, regal antlers. But there are none here.
I walk down Ngong Road and see Kenyans– tall, thin, dark, proud. They walk, walk, walk to work to life in wrapped hair and colorful skirts. Not far away a zebra grazes in a valley as vast as God’s imagination. There are bananas hanging heavy, browning, next to pails of charcoal, gritty and black. Matatus struggle through traffic as shillings are exchanged.