When I see photos of New York my whole world collapses.

The bright photos of Empire State lights, empty West Village streets, Brooklyn Bridge wires, intended to lure in tourists and dreamers, appear on my Instagram feed with brutal consistency. And when they do, my heart, that has been in some state of hibernation for the past 6 months, starts beating with the frequency of Broadway lights.

The waves of long-forgotten emotions – happiness, excitement, love, fear, loneliness – lift me off the ground and transfer me back to Manhattan. It gets hard to swallow and the dreadful suffocating tangle of tears starts making its way towards my eyes, blurring my sight and bringing up thousands of pictures of the city that was once my home. It is a torture that I force myself into so that I can keep breathing. It is a nudge from the long gone past that completely obscures my present.

If I stumble across those pictures at night, the next morning I can hear trucks being unloaded by my window just like I did every single morning in my room in Astoria. I go to work and, find myself on the platform of 42nd Street, Grand Central, surrounded by the mindless crowd in the rush hour. Late at night I can hear the city buzzing, the drinks spilling and the music pumping in the bars and nightclubs on Bedford Avenue. Hallucinations? No, because these are not images, but the sounds. And the sounds are real. 

New York. You took my heart out and gave it to some random man on the street, to this work-obsessed artist, who spends his weekends in front of his laptop at the local coffee shop, frantically typing in words of hatred pointed at New York. He drives to the farthest and darkest corners of the city hoping to find peace but gets mislead to the roaring Times Square. He hooks up with beautiful girls from the Upper West Side, claiming their warmth without giving anything back. 

He goes on an adventure in search for the cure for the thirst he is unable to quench. It is somewhere in the middle of this journey, on the narrow streets of Morocco, in vivacious colors of India, in the smiles of Thailand, on the tips of the waves in Australia and on the top of Everest, that I find him and claim back what once was mine.

Until then, you hold my heart, New York.