S L E E P L E S S // I N // N E W Y O R K
Sleepless in New York
Photography, styling & story Alexa Rose Lemkus
Muse Caleb Lemkus, Alex Rose Lemkus, NYC
Everyone has dreams, hopes, and wish lists but we all hold onto one dream that seems outlandish. It's the dream we think about all through childhood, whispering it to ourselves so often that it becomes more like a fairy tale than a real thing.
Yours might be to work for vogue or swim with sharks or drive formula one or walk on the moon.
Mine has always been New York.
15,000kms from my hometown, bright lights and the big city, New York romanced me from a young age and I have been in love with her ever since. She's mysterious, breathtaking and offers everyone the opportunity to reach their dreams, fall in love and find themselves within her majestic concrete jungle.
For the first time in my life, words aren't coming together for me, even as I write this my pen is poised above my notebook and I'm just staring over my balcony getting lost in the world that exists outside my fire escape.
There are entire galaxies existing on every block here, the neighbors are arguing in the street, kids are learning to ride bikes (in rush hour traffic), there's a guy on the corner who sells the best $3 hotdogs on 107th shouting his price list and already there are two UPS vans delivering brown paper packages tied up with string.
Is it really only 7am?
I sip my coffee, pleading with it to wake me up and let out a sigh of relief as the sun finally slips past the bodega on the corner building and hits my legs, warming me from the outside in.
"Good Morning America.." crackles my radio as my alarm goes off and I smile to myself, I can't sleep here lately so I'm up before it. If you haven't been to New York yet, then you'll pin that on my jetlag but if you have, you'll know why I can't sleep, you'll know why it's called the city that never sleeps.
Because nobody does here.
We're all too afraid that we would sleep through something magical.
Everyone tells me Paris is the city of love but I have never been romanced by a city like I have been by New York.
New York is a kaleidoscope of life and all it has to offer, you can find anything here. Its every kind of luscious food you have wanted to try and the very best version of it. It's the powdered sugar left on your lips from a donut and then kissed off by your lover. Its the sunsets that bounce off the buildings like a prism, setting the world into a shade of mandarin and corals. Its Jay Walking. It's the *thwack thwack* of the fall rain hitting your thigh high boots and deciding that it doesn't actually matter if they get ruined because they got ruined on fifth avenue and it was worth it. Its the smell of hot bread and Starbucks. Its every season in one day. It's midnight in Times Square where the lights are so bright that the night seems starless. Its getting french kissed in the middle of 58th street. It's a saxophone busking in the subway. Its cigarettes and coffee. It feels like the air is full of dreams and there is an electric sensation of people arriving here to fulfill them.
Yes, it has its flaws. Splashes from the bus taking a corner and ruining the hems of your silk coat. The dark alleys and all those crime shows you watched from the safety of your NZ couch. The rush of everyone moving, so fast, with no time to stop. Missing the subway by .5 of a second. That icy chill when the sun goes behind the empire state and leaves you in a chilly 4 degrees. The dreamers that came to New York and left empty handed.
But... New York is a bit like being in love. It has its flaws and its imperfections but you are so intoxicated with the feeling it gives you that even the flaws seem beautiful.
"Why did you move all the way to New York? Like, why here?" I asked the Irish bartender as he poured me a heavy handed scotch.
"Well... why'd you come all this way, why here, for a holiday?" he replied and he gave me this knowing look because we both know why.
New York electric and romantic and it feels like if something magical were to happen in your life, that it would happen here. But simultaneously, it gives you the feeling that you have come home, that you are among friends, that you are understood. Live off caffeine? You're a New Yorker. Love getting lost? You're a New Yorker. Spend your spare time eating good food, wandering through museums, reading literature, walking the park and drinking expensive Pinot Grigio? Fear not, you are a New Yorker.
I read a quote once about New York that came true for me when I entered an old coffee shop on Broadway.
"New Yorker's aren't born in New York, they come from all over the world. They arrive here in the city by boat, plane or car and they think...this is it, I'm meant to be here. I'm home."