Here we are in New York City, trying to comprehend the rooflines around our aunt’s apartment building. Soaking in the lights that seem to make the day grow darker, and high rise buildings that seem to surround us – welcoming the growing darkness – turning their lights on for the tourist in us.
We are here in the NYC because we were invited by Dabawenyo artist, Ben Banez (who, by the way, is the only Filipino included in the Lexicon of Surrealists which includes Dali) to have a small exhibit of our own works. The last time we had one was a few years back in San Jose, in a community center. This one is at the Dragon Gallery in Queens. The last artist they showed was Bong Espinosa. We feel privileged and honored that we will be following another artist from Davao.
The months previous have been kind of hectic. Especially this month of March. What with having to make sure that we have filed our taxes before we left for NYC, our yearly physical, enough meds to last the time we have to spend in the East Coast, making sure the pantry in our home in Henderson is well-stocked enough for the men we leave behind; aside from framing our works and making sure we ship the paintings to the gallery well before the opening, last minute decisions on which ones will go or stay, having business cards printed, the title tags, and all the other necessary things that, we hope, will make the time we have in the place more pleasant, and successful.
Although our show is the primary purpose in coming to the city, our proximity to the Metropolitan Opera House and the Lincoln Center has juiced up our expectations at getting to see a few plays in the area. Hopefully even a ticket to see an opera too.
And, walking the streets to the independent movie theatre, or the Loews cinema complex, or even just walking down 5th Ave to visit the Philippine Center, is a real bonus in itself. Even on rainy wet days.
The usual haunts my aunt used to bring us to has become the first few days’ destinations. The Chines restaurants, Shun Lee, Empire and even the take-out place Wok City down the street. Her pace, a little slower than her usual “busy” strides (with the walker she has to lean on) but determined nevertheless. Quick 2-minute time-outs, when she has to sit for a few, to get a second wind before proceeding through the concrete sidewalks.
This may not be my first time in New York City, but the first few days are always like having to learn the familiar again. Even so, the feeling of being in an adventure of sorts is a constant. While we admit to not really being into the experience of flying, even in the bigger airplanes, the destination does make a big difference. We tell ourselves how it will only be a few hours or something like that. That, it’s actually worth the temporary discomfort of having to endure the packed-like-sardines feeling.
Our anxiety, this time, goes beyond enduring the flight though. We have a small show, but it is NYC after all. Our feelings of insecurity has surfaced like a tsunami of doubt. While the gallery is relatively new, tucked away in Queens, and owned by a Filipino (Myrna Santos), it still riles up our sense of being the promdi, not only from Davao, but also from the deserts of Nevada.
But we hope high. Even at our age, we continue to build our hope on more hope. The privilege of having crossed over the half century mark has it’s delights too. Even with Mr. Trump’s infinite ability to address his own narcissism, in every flick of his little hands, in trying to shove the Russian agenda down the American throat. (Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Margot Marfori is an author and visual artist from Davao City. She is currently based in Henderson, Nevada.)