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January 04, 2003
...Jan 4th 1996...

Because of jetlag the morning of January 4th 1996 started very early for me. I woke up in my little room in Hotel Remington and there was this noise, there were the smells, there was the 60Hz . I sat at the tiny desk and began writing, trying to somehow fathom what was happening and where I really was. My body was obviously somewhere, but what about my mind? I read these few pages in brown ink every year on January 4th and each time my voice seems more and more distant. Each time the views and expectations belong to somebody younger and younger than me. There he was, this 26 year old guy who had just abandoned whatever he had in Europe and made this surprisingly courageous jump onto another continent.
I was afraid. I was scared of myself and what I had gotten myself into. I was the first of my family to ever cross the atlantic ocean. I had been in States before and I had been to New York, but the situation I found myself in on this January 4th was very different. I had just made this giant leap into a different world and was supposed to just function, just pick up the slack, just run ahead. My family and I escaped from Poland in 1981, so I was ready for humble beginnings, of course, but when I had left Poland with my parents and our dog, I was never alone. We could share our fears, our expectations, our hopes. We were a bigger unit than this really lonely me in that hotel room on 46th Street at 5am. I must have somehow forgotten that jumping into New York would mean to land in a place where I barely knew anybody. The city was this incredible love of mine I kept returning to, but New York is known for just ignoring their lovers sometimes. I was scared. I did not want to call anybody in Germany and complain. Not on my second day in the States. I tried to somehow explain to myself that what was about to happen was the most logical event in my life. I went through the strangest scenarios of where the 26 year old me could have been on this January day if, let�s say, my parents had decided not to leave Poland, or if I had done my community service at the right time, or if I had visited a different art school. I was not giving myself the choice of any answer other than that this was the right thing to do at the right time, and that I was the one to do it. I had chosen to move to New York for a reason. This was supposed to be the final coming home. I wanted to be part of this city. I wanted to be with it.
And here I was. I think this is also where I realized how helpless I felt without my friends. I was really incredibly lucky to know some of the brightest minds in Frankfurt. And here I was knowing only my future boss, about to work for a company where I was a bit less than welcome.
Not the ideal situation.
I had spoken to my friends in Germany about this move, of course. Klaus Mai (KM7), simply said that I could either choose to be a well known designer in Germany, or a, well, nobody in New York. Somebody else brought it down to the image of being a big fish in a small pond, or a tiny one in the ocean. So here I was. The �ocean� i had chosen was making this typical New York noise outside of my window and my mind was just slowly walking towards the point where my body was, in a chair by a tiny desk, on the 8th floor of a small hotel on 46th Street, near Times Square, where 7th Avenue meets Broadway, the Broadway, right in the middle of Manhattan, the center of my world. The content of my suitcases was a bit of a protective bubble I had brought with me. It was as if I condensed all of my previous life into them and as if I had landed here on this beautiful planet and now was afraid to put a foot out the door.
It did not take long to realize that my English was really another barrier I had brought with me to the States. My English was great for buying things. It was far from enough from enabling me to sell anything. And, after all, this was what I was supposed to do now. I was supposed to design things and sell them internally, I was supposed to just work with vendors, with photographers, with artists. I was supposed to build a design department using a language that somehow controlled me much more than I controlled it. My mind was going at a high speed, and what I was able to say sounded like a crawl. It was just a horrible place to be trapped in.
Then there was the fear that it would take me months to find any appropriate home. If the people I was supposed to work with, all real New Yorkers, could not find a place for me to stay, how was I supposed to tackle this task in the few minutes I would have per day between my mountain of upcoming projects?
It all felt incredibly overwhelming. Much more overwhelming than I had the courage to write down into my book. I was more concerned to record that it was me who had made the decision to move to New York and that it now would be me who would manage to figure out solutions. I was not there to prove a point to anybody, not even myself, it was just the way things were supposed to happen. My life was like a linear path, I was following it, I was on my way beyond this morning, I was walking steadily into the right direction. My very own, chosen, pretty daringly independent direction.


I made a little x into my book. This was the place and time where I now was. Things would work out somehow, solutions would find me, or I would find them. (Or both.)
The new day was about to begin. The sun was rising over Manhattan.
It was time for me to go to work. It was my first real New York Thursday.



Posted by: em!ly on January 4, 2003 08:06 PM


(it somehow is not the same when placed on a website which somehow happens to be in a million places at the same time. Or is it not? Maybe this x actually only exists on this one server somewhere in texas, where my hosting is... but i did not make the x there. i made it by pressing the x key on my powerbook keyboard and then made it appear just inches away on the screen, and in a few seconds the x will disappear for me, but appear for you. Hmm. where is here now?)

Posted by: Witold on January 4, 2003 08:24 PM

That's a beautiful image of webpage connectivity in my mind of wormholes and interconnecting rooms where walking through a door from one room to the next leads you lightyears away. And if you don't like where a door takes you to, a simple HREF or bookmark can make your door lead to someone else's corner of the world in no time flat.. It's like a "space machine" (as opposed to a time machine): My window on the world shows a white backyard with a sleepy wintertime forest scene beyond, but one step away on my monitor I can see the steeple out your window..

Posted by: Jim on January 4, 2003 09:27 PM

#1 that's one beautiful picture you've got there ;)

#2 how did you know? I am guessing it is different for everyone, but which was it for you? how did you know about New York? that THIS is the place to be? is it a tingling prickling sensation ? or ? is it something more subtle or more apparent than that? do tell please. :)

Posted by: T on January 4, 2003 10:06 PM

Jim, this is a fantastic description of the world wide web. I think there is some sort of time factor there as well though. The picture you see with this post was taken 7 years ago and yet it appears to be there today.
There is snow outside of your window?

T, to answer your comments...
#1 thank you so much for the kind words.
#2 oh I think I will need to write a post about this coming home to New York experience.

What a beautiful night tonight. (4/1/2003) ; )

Posted by: Witold on January 4, 2003 10:50 PM

Yes please do, :) the reason I ask is because I never realized... I came home from a artist-group meeting and it was amazing to me that many people told me they were struggling because they did not know what they want to do, And I realize I did not know the feeling of not knowing what I love, or what I want to do. Because it was always there so I've not know any other feeling and did not notice it. So I am interested in knowing your "intuition" or your "knowing" process, because.... how could I have missed my own? :) time for the next step.

Posted by: T on January 4, 2003 11:18 PM

T.. A friend of mine went to high school in NYC, still calls himself a New Yorker, and is dying to return just as soon as he finishes his undergrad. Somehow he knows that no matter what else he chooses, NYC is where he has to be. He may end up doing a doctorate in English Lit, or maybe law school, but either way, he's set on NYC. I feel more similar to you. I've known what I want to do (programming by day, music by night), but I had no idea where. I've worked in Dallas, Austin, and Chicago and have done a little travelling in the US, but not a ton. For me, I don't think location was as important. Don't get me wrong, I'm trilled to be moving into Chicago in June, but it's not as though I'd be much less happy in Austin or Dallas.. Maybe for people like you and me location is not as important. I know I need to be in a metropolitan area with lots of people and action, but would Seattle be any worse of a choice? Probably not. Maybe there are other things that are more important to you.. Do you have long winters? or blistering summers? Do you crave nearby ski-ready mountains? Do you need authentic Mexican food? Can you be just as happy looking at a sunset over the Brooklyn bridge as the Golden Gate bridge?

Posted by: Jim on January 5, 2003 12:46 AM

Witold, yeah, you're right.. Time does somehow fit into the picture. But it can act in so many different ways. Time can act lightning-fast, like the rate of responses on, say, Slashdot. Or it can freeze time, as in Google's archives of usenet past. The varying pace of time can be destructive, in the case of broken links, like a shearing force that tears the bonds of HREFs.

Posted by: Jim on January 5, 2003 12:52 AM
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