I feel like as people, but as artists especially, we all move to some city somewhere and hope that all our dreams will come true. We work very hard, eat very little, and sleep even less. Regardless of who you are, what you come from, and who you know, in a city like New York, you’re bound to find what it is you’re really looking for. At the end of the day, many of us want a New York love story, a kind of epic romance. These kinds of stories always seem a little more special than regular love stories. If you somehow find someone in these crowded streets, filthy subways, and general hysteria, you might as well go play the lottery the same night.
At 21 years old, I’ve never fallen in love. I’ve never let someone in; I’ve never stayed up waiting by the phone. The cliché holds that someone my age should be out scouting the streets for the one...the one! But see, you only get one shot at your first New York love story and if you fuck it up, well, you fuck it up. I always imagined that I’d meet someone at one of these fancy art shows in Manhattan and fall madly for them. Someone tough yet soft on the inside; someone with perspective and maybe a bit of attitude. Nothing too crazy or out of this world, but if they rode a Harley, I wouldn’t complain.
I’d hate to miss meeting the person I’m supposed to be with for the sake of convention and temporary sensations. And so, I bought a twin-sized bed. Yep! I, a young queer person in New York City, moved into my own spot and bought myself a bed meant for a 9-year-old. Hear me out.
My first few months in New York, this taste of absolute freedom loomed over me like a ticking time bomb. I felt as if I had to prove something to the kids back home, to my mother, and maybe even a little bit to myself. I went out! My friends gave me a fake I.D. and snuck me into the coolest bars in Bushwick, the clubs that only play '90s rock anthems, and the house parties overflowing with Smirnoff. I don’t drink, but I have a good time anywhere I go. My sober state lets me really absorb the atmosphere I’m in, and if I ever chose to be a comedian I’d have plenty of material thanks to nights like these.
I used to start off every night with the same intentions. I’d tell myself, “Watch your bag, don’t take any drinks, keep an eye on your friends, and maybe if you’re not too busy, try to fall in love.” For the average person, these are pretty simple rules to follow, and I assumed that’s what everyone was thinking when they decided to dance with a stranger or buy drinks for the person across the room. My naivety has always been one of my more charming characteristics, though not exactly my favorite.
Night after night, I ended up confused as to how everyone I knew (so it seemed) had found someone worth their time and energy. Each night, my friends would find someone new, someone more special than the night before, someone who really took their breath away, and I couldn’t even find someone who could make me blink twice. People would be rude and condescending but then laugh and ask for my number. They’d ignore me and then fall “in love” with me five seconds later. One time, a man even offered to buy me a house in Italy, give me a piece of his million dollar company, and take my friends and me to the fanciest restaurant in the city if I went home with him.
I got used to this behavior; each night I’d start with the same intentions set, and each subsequent morning I’d be laughing my ass off about the absurdity of the night before. But I never accepted any offers or gave out my number because I realized something...
I’ve realized that I am not living in the same time period as everyone else. While I find myself existing more comfortably in the long-gone era of courting and romance, everyone else seems to be much more satisfied with one-night stands. Not that anything is wrong with that, but I know myself and that’s not who I am. I’m in love with the idea of love, not the idea of sex, and that’s what most people out there seem to want. But I’ve never been like most people anyway.
I used to think I should grow up real fast and do as most people my age do, but the truth is that nobody really knows what they’re doing at this stage in life or what it is they really want. We’re still just kids, dumb, foolish kids just starting out, and whether we admit it or not, the loneliness has set in. So, it’s only natural that we rush to reach out into the universe and hope that someone reaches back; to feel close to somebody who wants to be close to you is the greatest thing in the world at a time like this. That’s what I tried to do. I dove right into this “dating scene” with the hope of finding someone to replace all the people that I left behind in my hometown.
So after mulling all this over, I made a wonderful decision, just in time for my move into my new apartment. I ordered a beautiful luxury memory foam twin-sized mattress with a baby pink wire bed frame. It’s exactly six feet long, which leaves just enough room for my feet not to hang off the edge. It fits me like a glove, and only me. There isn’t room for a meaningless one-night stand or anyone not near worthy. This bed is all mine, and this way I don’t even feel tempted to try to squeeze in anyone else.
I still go out and socialize, but my intentions are far less grandiose. I still keep an eye on my bag, don’t take any drinks, and watch out for my friends, but I’m not looking for anybody special. The first chance I got to be on my own, and all the sudden I was afraid to be alone, a tale all too familiar. I’ve got to be alright with being alone or else I’ll turn into someone who always needs a person — and I have never been that person! It’s funny to think about how mature and prepared I imagined I was a few months back.
Maybe my person is out there, and if they are out there, I’ll meet them soon enough. But for now I’ll spend my nights laughing at stupid pickup lines and dreaming of that Harley-riding artist with a Boston accent and dragon tattoo. Like I said before, you only get one shot at your first New York love story, and I want mine to be fucking epic!
From It's Not Personal, written by Grey... and illustrated by Rosalina Vllanueva Arce
"Grey..." is a 21 year old gender fluid, bisexual, bipolar, vigilante paying back their karmic debt in New York City. Currently making punk music solo and in the band Home Alone, Co-Founding street art projects such as Arts Not Parts and @bobrossjeans, modeling, acting, and writing about how strange it all actually is...
Rosalina Villanueva Arce is a fashion designer working in trend forecasting. Born in Mexico and living in NY, she loves to illustrate for friends and is devoted music fan. Follow her on Instagram.
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It's Not Personal is an inclusive dating collective and growing anthology. INP creates opportunities for women/womxn to share their dating experiences in safe spaces, empowers them to find comfort in their relationship statuses, and inspires them to have a healthy relationship with themselves through the tools of art and writing. INP does workshops, events and has a monthly column with BUST Magazine Online, as well as works to raise money for RAINN. For more information, be sure to follow It's Not Personal on Instagram join the Facebook group, and send art and writing submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.