Discover more from Illumination Diaries by Jakari Wing
on living in the city for 6 years & the life force behind trash
some autobiographical thoughts
This past sunday I woke up in my friend’s bed. The sun shined extra bright in her room. I read a note on the board across from me “you’re on the right path because its YOUR path”. hehe
I looked out the window and saw the entire city. A translucent blue, cloudless sky. I peered down, from the 11th floor to see the trees full of leaves.
I have now experienced my 6th spring in NY, and to this day there is nothing quite like it. It feels like an arrival. Like stretching my body after a very long car ride.
When I first moved to NY, the plane was a bit of a blur. The sun was out, there was a slight breeze, and the clouds clear.
My roommate was out, so I let myself in by buzzing all the buttons. I carried two large suitcases up three flights of stairs. I left them near the door and climbed up to the roof. Laid on my back. Soaked in the sun.
I joked that I was ‘chasing a feeling’ when my friend’s parents asked why I moved to NY.
On the day of my 6th year anniversary here, I sought out to fill my bag with my favorite things. Flowers (which I ended up handing out to cute mothers), my camera, sesame balls (gf ofc), cash hehe, a new book and a picture of me in a photo booth.
On my way to find a new book, I walked towards Mulberry Street in Chinatown where I recognized a funeral home. I once almost ran into an employee who was opening the door of the funeral home and suggested I walk ahead. My polite impulses immediately said no and suggested HE go first. A hearse was parked nearby and a corpse covered by a white sheet was wheeled out in front of me. He looked at me apologetically while I tried to replace the look of shock on my face with a prayer.
I’m still working on my manners, saying “excuse me” instead of “sorry”. Or making space for myself on the street. I learned a lesson outside that funeral home.
When I walked into the book store, my eyes immediately were drawn to “How to Write An Autobiographical Novel” by Alexander Chee. The cover and inside lining of the book are filled with self portraits of the author in photo booths. I flipped through the pages and found a chapter about the Castro in 1989. I’ll read anything nonfiction that takes place in SF so I immediately bought the book. I haven’t been able to put it down since. I just finished the chapter that takes place in SF and cried.
I wrote a list of things that I wished I could tell myself when I first moved here but it’s quite long. I’ll share a few… one: that magic is real, two: the first year is the hardest, and three: stop eating oats / gluten, you’re allergic.
On another note, I’ve started to look at the trash in NY differently. That same day, I saw a black plastic bag caught in a wind tunnel. It floated in a ghostly way. I watched long enough for pedestrians to notice and be disappointed when they realized what I was looking at. Whatever was moving the trash made it look as if it had life.
Here’s something I wrote about trash while in a cab on my way to a video shoot a few months ago. The artists we interviewed coincidentally all collected and transformed trash into art.
One artist in particular told us of a now radioactive dump site in the Rockaway’s with trash from the 1950s where she collects her materials. The trash has miraculously been petrified into beautiful pieces of stone.
I started doing clean ups in my area every now and then. I see the trash as an integral part of the emotional make up of the city. I found broken pieces of ceramic dish-ware and a fish head when I was out cleaning last. I didn’t take either of them home (lol) but I know that somewhere in NY an artist is collecting and turning trash into art. I’d rather write about it for now.
I also noticed that when I’m cleaning trash I feel really good, but if I overdo it I slip into the mentality of omg there’s so much trash, the magic of it is lost. So I do what I can, and that is enough.
One of the artists we spoke to had flooding in their basement after a big storm. He used the leftover material that soaked up the water for a sculpture.
Sometimes I feel like the environmental issues and trash in the city are lethal, but here I was meeting someone who literally was ready to dig their fingers into it, despite what the obvious health hazards could be.
What really is hazardous? What really is helpful? And how much life force does NY trash have in it?
Anyhow I’m leaving y’all on this note lolol.
I hope you’re inspired to look at trash a little differently.
Tune into my P.S’s below hehe.
Until next time,
P.S.I have a a short film I made titled “Phiran Wali, the Girl Who Walks” screening next Thursday 05/25 with New Cinema Club in Brooklyn. Sharing a flier below for those who are able to make it! I’ll be there in person so come and say hi!
P.S.S. have you watched polite society yet
P.S.S.S. my friend Karissa introduced me to Syreeta who I CANNOT stop listening to, this is my favorite song so far.