Sarah, a young talented lesbian film photographer from New York, contacted me to shoot a few rolls together. My trip to New York was nearing it's arctic cold end and upon reading her message, feeling a kind energy from her, and seeing the beautiful raw journalistic images she captures around the city-- I immediately knew that this would be a wonderful opportunity to have her join me and document my experience exploring Mama's old apartment in Queens. She was game.
It was fashion week in New York and the city was bustling with models, fashionistas, cold winds, and snow. It was the coldest time I have ever spent in this city-- much less anywhere in the world. Being an island girl, I had never known what zero degrees felt like. It was bone chilling and I was having a ball. I visited with my thick New York accented friend Sasha, that I made friends with on my first trip to the city years ago. I spent the majority of my time with Tanya, a beautiful Hapa New York local, who was newly dating and in love with my dear friend Mariano. She invited me to come hang out and spend the night with her while I was out there and my overnight slumber party ended up turning into my entire trip being spent with her.
We were becoming close friends quick and both felt that our friendship was entirely meant to be. We shared a lot of our stories and self with one another and she showed me the city through her lens. It was healing for both of us to be present for eachother at this time. I was getting away to explore my hearts desires and she was getting ready to move out of New York and come to California. We had magical nights celebrating the city and would return to her beautiful SoHo loft where we took hot baths every night to escape the cold. We listened to music, cooked Japanese breakfasts, and shared our dreams. I met her family that owned and lived in the building and felt at home. We had a lot of similarities spiritually and culturally; Japanese moms, American fathers and we were two women who were empaths as well as hopeless romantics who could talk to eachother in Japan-glish.
In planning this trip, one of my intentions was to visit the apartment that Mama and Asami once lived in. It was after her divorce from her first husband, that she moved there. My other sister Karina, was separated from her from her and remained with him while she had Asami. She was a single mother, estranged from her other daughter, and moved to the Big Apple. Together, Asami and Mama, lived in Queens in a quaint apartment with a siamese cat. Upon booking my trip I asked my Asami if she had any way of finding the address to their old apartment. She didn't but she mentioned that she knew it was close to her school. At this point I figured that it would still be great to walk around the general area. It was incredibly significant for me to visit a time and space from her past. It was especially significant, the synchronicities that would lead me to get there.
I have had several trips to New York and whenever I travelled anywhere Mama had been, I would always ask her for reccomendations. She absolutely loved New York and was always excited for me when I travelled, it was definitely something we both loved. She always produced wonderful lists for me of places to visit, things to eat, and sometimes even, people to see. Upon recalling this I searched my email inbox for our old emails that I could re-read and with wonderful synchronicity-- alas, her address to her Queens apartment. I was sitting at my computer, overwhelmed with tears of joy streaming down my face. That incredible feeling you get when you experience the intangible feeling of knowing you are being guided and spoken to by spirit-- it is surreal.
Fast forwarding to my last day, Sarah offered to come meet me at Tanya's loft. Together we took the Metro and she pulled one of my suitcases through the snow. She knew exactly where we were going and when we arrived in Queens, it continued to beautifully and lightly snow. We took some shots outside of the building and Sarah asked me if I wanted to go inside. The building was secured but I decided to try the door anyway. To our luck, the door didnt shut entirely so I pushed it open and there we were inside the lobby. I walked around observing the mail room, imaginging her during this time of her life. We took the elevator up and decided to go onto the roof. We got to the roof and there was a sign warning that opening the door would sound an alarm. As I debated the truth of this sign I turned around to see a window. We crawled through the window to the snow covered rooftop. We both remained silent as we wandered around and looked out across the neighborhood. Leaving the building we went to go in search of somewhere to sit and share a meal together. Sarah, a stranger to my life, listened to my story, I cried in front of her and she too, shared her story with me. She rode with me in the taxi to the airport and walked me to the security checkpoint. I gave her a hug and was so grateful for our newfound friendship.
It's beautiful how even after someone's death you can still carry an ever growing relationship with them. If you allow yourself to notice it, they're always somehow divinely orchestrating connected moments and leaving evidences of their presence and love for you.