2017 was the first year I did not go to New York City since 2005. When I started graduate school at Stony Brook University on Long Island, I first visited the city to celebrate my birthday with Julia Mortyakova, my friend from college who had started her masters’ at New York University. Our dinner at Sushi Samba in the West Village fused cuisines of three lands: Peruvian corn as a side dish to Brazilian beef seared and rolled with greens and rice in the style of Japanese sushi. I don’t remember the name of the young jazz trio we heard at the Village Vanguard, but I was thrilled to experience this historic space. I caught up with Julia again in March 2017 to participate in the inaugural Music by Women Festival at Mississippi University for Women, where she is the Department Chair.
I lived in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn from August 2011 to August 2013. Wanting a break from the suburban life of Long Island, I moved into an intentional community that trained me in consensus decision-making, invited me to a silent march against the city’s stop-and-frisk policy, and joined me in volunteering for displaced senior citizens a couple of days after Hurricane Sandy.
My most recent visit to New York City was for cello-rock musician Noah Hoffeld. A member of the intentional community had introduced me to Noah in 2012. He and I are kindred spirits, and our paths have crossed several times since then. The highlight of our collaborations was a weekend of mid-Atlantic concerts in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that featured our echo of his work with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. My last trip to New York City made an October 2016 weekend getaway of listening to and singing along with Noah at Natchie, visiting United by Blue‘s Nolita store, and catching up with other friends in Crown Heights and Clinton Hill.
Why didn’t I go to New York in 2017? I traveled elsewhere and stayed busy with work in Pennsylvania. In addition to my teaching load, I spent the first half of the year performing and learning about music by women as well as composing and premiering new music of my own. In the summer, I encountered my musical heroes, took an online Intro to Business course, and solidified my music-making vision with resources from Change Creator. Because of my husband’s job change in July, we moved in late August, which defined the second half of the year. A longer commute meant less time to get to know my new community or to visit the older one almost three hours away. Aside from a couple of trips to see friends in Lancaster and concerts with the Sisterhood of Composer/Performers, most weekends simply involved preparing for the week ahead. Although I did not go to New York City in 2017, it has and will continue to come up in conversations–such as ones with family this holiday season–because being there has permanently impacted my perspective on housing, public transit, public media, the role of government, and of course, the arts.