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What A Strange Home – Lisa Martens – Medium


A love letter to New York

This is a transient place for everyone else. They come with a dream, they achieve it, they don’t.

Most likely, they don’t.

But I was born here. This is home. And what a strange home. When I travel, this is the base I return to.

You’ll be ignored then strangely saved.

People are rude but they will help you, take pity on you, if you ask to not be seen. And your philosophies can be tested:

Being stoic is only worthwhile if you can be stoic on fire.

So can you keep that calm under pressure?

Can you turn your trauma into a strength?

Can you turn down that modeling contract? Better yet, can you accept it without caring about it?

Because this city loves rewarding indifference.

High highs.

Low lows.

I’ve slept on a rooftop with a jacket as a blanket, and under the desk at my college, and I’ve been in Jay-Z’s club, and I’ve paid nothing for things that have costed thousands, and I’ve stayed up working night after night, and I’ve eaten well and I’ve treated myself like garbage, and there hasn’t been much in-between: Not here.

There’s an arrogance.

There’s a mix. I am a mix.

There’s a struggle to make room. There are parts that need repair, but still need to operate while they’re healing.

No rest. No down time.


There’s injustice.

There are people who will help, who will fight, who will stand somewhere, anywhere, and scream, and the right people will hear.

(Most will not hear. Most will walk. You must scream anyway.)

There are times I moved my furniture away from the windows because there were so many shootings.

There are times I’ve been afraid of the police.

There are times I’ve been afraid of myself.

And what a strange home.

I’ve been the poor person in a group of rich people. I’ve felt like their little monkey, their entertainment, their window into what life is like for the other.

I’ve worn mall clothes around models and felt embarrassed.

I’ve been kicked out of colleges.


Three times?

Unsure right now.

And what a strange home I keep coming back to. I feel right at home on the street. Right at home using the Empire State Building as my North Star.

I’ve worked good jobs with insurance and a standing desk.

I’ve worked alongside a homeless man handing out fliers in the cold.

Things have been good.

Things have been bad.

Objectively, this is not a stable relationship.

I feel most natural when my feet are raw and bleeding and blistered from going up and down the streets.

I walked in the dark after the hurricane.

Protested the day after he was elected. Gave the finger to that travesty he calls home.

Watched the New World Trade reach the sky, the train station rebuilt. My grandfather watched the Twin Towers reach the sky from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And when I see that building, I can touch time, I swear.

And what a strange home.

Most of the people I met here long ago are gone now.

What a strange home: Where everybody leaves. Everybody burns out.

When racists tell me to go back to where I came from, I laugh.

Happily. I will happily go back to one of the most famous cities on the planet. Where I received two higher education degrees. Where I grew up.

Fuck you.

And burning out isn’t an option: This is my home, my strange home. The warmth isn’t as obvious. It must be searched for. But it is there.

There’s no obvious fireplace. There are no free smiles.

But when you’re lost, someone will help you.

What a strange home.

New York, my home.

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