I’ve wandered around Chinatown in NYC for over two decades now, thinking I know every nook and cranny– every Chinese-bodega, dim sum joint, and secret-whore house– but imagine my surprise when I find frail old people living in cramped tenant houses versus secret millionaires in beautiful city condos! I’m now a traveling therapist– I visit my patients in their homes. On a typical day, I’ll go from Cherry Street close to Brooklyn Bridge all the way to Broome street right by Williamsburg Bridge (it’s a long trek, my legs are amazing thanks to my MBT shoes). I’ve seen beautiful million dollar condos versus old government subsidized apartment buildings (the ones with doors you have to open to get into an elevator). A week into my new job, I already feel lucky to have a nice family and a house with working toilets– one of my patients lives in a cramped space in an apartment with at least five other families– his bedroom is smaller than my closet. He has four flights to go up and down– the stairs creak and the stairway’s dark. He can’t go down the stairs now after his hospitalization– he’s too afraid. Well that’s where I come in, to give him back confidence to go down those steps– to live his life again. I can’t imagine him spending the rest of his life in the dark tenant home– it’s definitely a place documentary film makers would love to explore.
On the other end of the spectrum is a patient in a beautiful condo overlooking Chatham Square– her family runs a business and she has a treadmill in her home. Her bathroom’s larger than the other guy’s bedroom.
I just don’t understand why some people are so fortunate and some live such terrible lives. Isn’t all human life equal? Why is it that some people are born with jade chopsticks in their mouths while others have splintered-wooden ones? I thought I wouldn’t have to be depressed now that I’m out of the hospital, but seeing patients live so poorly is even more depressing. When I feel like complaining about the long-distance trekking (we have to carry laptops on us, we have no offices, no bathrooms, we’re out even when it’s raining, snowing, sleet, fog, cold as hell, and have to do everything ourselves from scheduling to note writing, to contacting doctors and other professions), I stop myself because what I’m doing and how I’m living is wonderful compared to how some of my patients have to live and spend the rest of their days. I guess this challenging job will make me a stronger person, and as my mom had said, it’ll give me a lot more writing material. I’ve been writing superficial things, it’s time to step out of my dream world I guess. Life after all isn’t as glamorous as Gossip Girl, as cool as Twilight, or as magical as Harry Potter. It’s dark, it’s sad, it’s a challenge, but it’s all worth living.