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Dissent: Volume 6 of the Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing


Tlot tlot tlot. The sound of heels doing the New York walk on a pavement. The bustle of the subway. Cabs honking during rush hour. A street musician playing at Washington Square Park. The most primal form of an artist performing for an audience who pays for the art it consumes in the moment. Instant gratification. No strings attached. And then you walk away, leaving behind a part of you forever. Tlot tlot tlot.

The more time I spend in this city, the more I find myself being contemplative. For the first time in my life, I reclaim the night. Midnight hours spent in solitude at the corner of Lower East Side, sitting in a garden, staring at cars go by. Days, being alone in a crowd. Loving the feeling, the freedom of not knowing anyone. I could do anything, wear anything, say anything, be anyone, and it doesn’t matter. Today, I’ll be the innocent girl. Tomorrow, the poet. The party girl in the sexy red dress. And sometimes even the bum in pajamas. I don’t know where the next day of this journey will take me. Tlot tlot tlot.

Helter Skelter: New York City
The world makes its own music. Photograph from Flickr.

In those moments of contemplation, I suddenly remember who I am. It’s so easy to forget. The world makes its own music. And when we try to be in harmony with others, we forget the tune we started out humming. I sing out of tune, but the world forces me to follow the rules of music. I find the melody in others but my self gets in disharmony.

The impersonal noise of the city only brought with it a platform of peace and quiet. I found myself while on a swing, bending backwards, feeling the rush of the wind in my hair. I found myself, walking on cobbled streets filled with yellow smog and the smell of cheap wine. I remembered that I love literature. Revel in music and art. Give my heart away every single time raindrops hit the summer soil with a passion reserved for the most intense love stories. Pitter patter pitter patter. The more I walked, the more I saw, the more I remembered. Tlot tlot tlot.

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I wonder why the city inspires this feeling in me. I wonder what elements make it acceptable for me to truly be me. It’s not lack of judgement on the part of the world. It’s not comfort in the familiar. It’s not love.

While waiting for the subway, I trace the neighbourhoods on the subway map. From Upper West Side to meat packing to TriBeCa, the village and Brooklyn on the side. And it suddenly hits me why. I can mould myself to belong to the world. But if my out-of-tune self wants to shine, it needs to not belong. To not fit in. And New York is the only city where those who don’t belong, belong. It is the city where misfits walk free. Tlot tlot tlot.

The author wishes to remain anonymous because she thinks that she is a fluid concept; not someone who can be defined by name. But she would love to hear your thoughts on who you are and why you use your name so freely.
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