February 12, 2004,
10 years ago, today, I was landing in JFK Airport.
It took me a little while, but I finally found my friend Hichem. He had come to pick me up by car. Back then, we were allowed to carry up to 72kg of luggage (around 160lbs), so my bags were quite heavy.
We drove through Queens. It had been snowing and it was definitely colder than Paris. I remember Jay Z playing on the radio.
He had arranged accommodation for me in the city, midtown. I rented a room for $400, small but conveniently located. He helped me carry my luggage up the stairs, introduced me to my host, R., and went on his way.
It was still quite early, so R. and I went for a walk all the way through Times Square (we were by the Lincoln center).
It wasn’t my first time in New York. But this time was special. This time was for “longer”.
I came here with no plans. There were things that I wanted to do but was too shy and not ready…
$1000 in my bank account, some clothes, shoes…
I bought some books, a Sony cassette/CD player and a few bootleg CDs on 125th. Alicia Keys, Usher. Can’t believe it’s been 10 years.
It is like looking back to someone else’s life. All I have been through…
©️ Daphne Mia Essiet, 2014