I’ve always been a writer. Even before I knew what career path I would take I knew that I enjoyed writing. I like the immense amount of possibilities that can unfold once my pen sets down on the page. I could dream up a fiction story about a young girl who runs away. I could write a short story derived from a life experience. Or I could write a hard-hitting news story that makes the front page of a national newspaper. The possibilities are endless.
I think my interest in writing stemmed from my active imagination. Before I was a writer, I was a dreamer, and I still am. I dream of future events, alternate realties and far away places. I am an only child and I’ve never really had the chance to travel abroad so I turned to creating adventures in my imagination as a way of coping. My creativity has always been the root of my writing. Its been the moving force behind every essay, article, blog post and short story I’ve ever written. It is the thing that flows out whenever I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Without it, I can’t write.
An amazing thing happened when I first came to New York. I lost that creativity. Well, not so much lost as misplaced. I got caught up in the hustle and bustle of the city and my overwhelming workload and let the creative juices drain out of me. But, it wasn’t long before I found something to revive me. At the time I was taking an art history class and one of my assignments was to pick out a piece of Roman art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and write about it. I’d never been to the museum and decided to take a day trip there to tour the other galleries aside from the Greek and Roman art section. I’ll never forget the day I turned on Fifth Avenue and saw the majestic steps of the museum in their full glory. It was an amazing site. I’d visited the Smithsonian when I was younger but I’d never seen such beautiful architecture. I had no idea what the rest of the museum had in store.
I have to admit, my first trip to the Met was not the most graceful. I took a wrong turn off the Egyptian room and got lost in a room full of china for a rather long ten minutes. It wasn’t until later visits that I finally explored the Met to the fullest and found my favorite hideouts.
I finally made my way to the Greek and Roman exhibit and circled the room several times before settling on a large statue of thee young Hercules in the main corridor. I sat on the marble bench in front of the statue for almost an hour, examining every gap and crevice in the stone. It was enlightening. I felt so alive and so in tune with the world. I felt so special to be able to sit in a room full of some of the most renown pieces of art in the world. To be surrounded by that much beauty and to imagine the amount of creativity and effort that went into each piece was enough to shake me out of my writer’s block and revive the dreamer in me. I sat there on that same bench for several hours more and wrote stream of consciousness. I wrote my essay. I wrote a poem. I wrote a short story. I wrote a to do list. I wrote everything that came to my mind.
The Met has had the same effect on me ever since. Whenever I feel empty, and cannot get my creative juices flowing I hop the 6 train uptown and spend a few hours walking around or sitting under my favorite paintings. It’s difficult to explain the sort of calm that washes over me when I’m there. The environment grounds me and allows me to get a grip on my life, but at the same time lifts me up with all the untold possibilities the future holds. I feel invincible and ready to handle whatever the world has to throw at me. Though I was brought up in a strict Catholic family I’ve never been a really religious person. I don’t go to church every Sunday, or even on the holidays, and I don’t pray to God because I don’t believe there is one. But, for me, the Met is like my church. I feel renewed and happy once I leave. It’s freeing.
And every time I go I find a new favorite place. My spot has shifted from the bench in front of the young Hercules in the Roman hall, to the atrium with the reflecting pool, to the seat in front of Chagall’s Lovers and most recently to the third level of the Modern Art exhibit in front a Jackson Pollack painting. Each time I pass over an old spot I notice the traces I left behind–the ideas I thought of while I was seated there, the things that touched me or that final eureka moment I had which fulfilled my hunger for inspiration.I’ve been in New York for three years now, and every time I am feeling lost I return there.
It’s my special place that is big enough to house my crazy imagination. Like a mental storage facility that holds onto unfinished dreams and drafts of ideas. I feel safe there, like it’s a home, but in reality is my place of escape. Though the paintings change walls and exhibits come and go, it’s not the physical space that encapsulates my creativity. It’s the power I’ve given to the idea of the Met, the good memories that I associate with it’s name and it’s face.
Though it will never be my own, I still hold it close to my heart as if it is my one personal place in the world.