It's Wednesday morning and everything is a mess. It's a busy day here in New York City and everyone's rattling around in subway cars trying to stumble to their jobs in the city. The rat race is alive and well today as I bump into a Wall-street type who nearly scolds me to death with his coffee. His watch is worth more than my life.
Not even a "sorry" or an "excuse" me. I'm stumbling through Mahnattan like Thompson in Las Vegas, aviators securely attached to my giant green eyes, complete with a loud, gaudy, printed button down shirt and black Chuck Taylors. I'm scrolling through my music collection for some angry Brit rock when a girl who had to be a supermodel emerged next to me on the train, all cheek bones and glowing skin, slender shoulders and shiny hair. A Louis Vuitton shopping bag worth more than everything in my backpack is slung carelessly over her shoulder. She's everything I could never be.
I'm sure she's nice too.
She checks her nails and smiles at me. All I can imagine is the bags under my eyes scaring her away, my course blonde hair that waits for a dye-job I can't afford. The weight of my stupid backpack is getting to me. My dumb, loud Acapulco shirt, my shit eating grin, my bitter world view. I felt like shit. Walking a little bit sideways to avoid a collision with someone who could crush me with their wealth, I emerge from the Subway platform at 5th Avenue and 23rd Street, eyes open and eavesdropping on the conversations of those on their fancy blue-tooth pieces, "No...No...do not make that trade! Everyone knows the market's fucked." My backpack is heavier than a small child. It bumps into Balenciagas and Louis Vuittons, creating an almost systematic separation between me and the steady young individuals forced to stand by me at the crosswalk. I sprint and dodge through the suits and ties, stiletto heels and expensive boutique-style dresses, walking like a battle ax in a sea of smooth-steppers. My hair is a little unruly today and blows like a blonde flag in the wind as people with tightly manicured ballet buns breeze by me. They look incredible, like fashion models or mannequins you can't possibly touch.
I am the sore little thumb of the Flatiron District. A blemish to the perfection, and that's just fine.
When we feel like we're not fitting in, or hitting a standard set by those around us, it's easy to fall into fear and loathing. We get jealous and distant and try to fake it until people think we're apart of their group. Sometimes when I walk down 5th Avenue (yes, that 5th Avenue) or Park Place (yes, that Park Place) I start to hate myself a little bit. I want what they have. I want to ditch the Acapulco shirts and the Converse tennies. I want longer legs and higher heels. I want Christian Louboutin shoes and Harry Winston diamonds. I want to be someone else. But then I realize how fucking invigorating it is to be different, to be the one people laugh at or try to emulate.
There is nothing dangerous about being a carbon copy. People who are in those groups probably want what you have...the grass is greener thing.
So I've found it's easier to just be yourself, or try to avoid wanting to be someone else. The bottom line is that you can't be someone else. You're stuck, but you're also free. I wonder how my life would be different if I lived in a high-rise and had some money in the bank. I wonder if I'd be happier.
II'm not tall and beautiful like a super model, and I don't have famous friends, but I've got some character, and a little bit of strength too. The truth is I wouldn't be happy. I'd probably long for what I have now. Inside every luxury apartment are the same human issues that exist in Crown Heights, Brooklyn or Flushing, Queens. "I just want to be loved." "I just want a career." "I just want to have a future."
Keeping up with the Joneses is a joke. People always want what they can't have. Most of the time when you meet socialites and people with status and money, they're a little empty inside too. You never know what people are dealing with, and the surface doesn't always match the layers and layers of shit beneath it. Being an individual is a hard thing to do. It's the harder path. The one less traveled, you know Frost and shit. But when you stand on the subway platform, everything is equal. Everyone is sweaty, tired, avoiding eye contact, and most of the time, absolutely miserable. It doesn't matter what tax bracket you're in, or who you're trying to be, some things in life are equalizers. We all have to get on and off the subway, we all have to eat, sleep, dream. We all get up, we all deal with our unruly minds. We all cry, and laugh...we're all happy, sad. Some of us are disturbed and some of us are content. And we all have to cope with our issues of identity and loathing. The similar things are what tie us together.
So the next time a rich guy bumps into you, just remember...he might just want to ditch his suit and trade you for you 10 dollar Acapulco shirt and ride to Brooklyn.
The grass may not always be greener. .