Before I lived and breathed New York, before it all became an expected, normal blur of my life, I took the train down once or twice a year. I grew up removed from a small town on a cul-de-sac in the woods. I didn’t like the city. Of course I didn’t like it. I hated the crowds and the noisy filth.
And before I grew numb to it, and we all grow numb to it, I was moved by the homelessness. When I did visit, I gave the first homeless person I saw a dollar. It was nothing, it was stupid; a childish way to exonerate myself as a heartless New Yorker. But I noticed, and I tried.
I stopped handing out dollars when I moved here.
I rarely ever acknowledge them now. I’ve turned into that cold city-dweller I hated. I gave a dollar to a man in Coney Island last Friday night and turned away as police stood around a dead body on E. 6th street the next afternoon. I did not cry. I kept walking.
I found this short film shot on a cellphone by Jason van Genderen and while I am deeply touched, I remain no less conflicted.