NEW YORK : Risks, Love, and Loss

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Part 1

November 04, 2013

Where to being this story of mine, with so much to include, exclude, carefully editing strings of memories some gentile, while others are offset with a harsh truths. Reflecting back to November 04, 2013 I found myself on the 43rd floor in a bar overlooking 7th avenue, seeing the lights of the city for the first time in the perspective of a bird. It was an hour after an amazing panel discussion sponsored by the organizations PAVE ( and Live in the Grey (, a panel which included a clothing designer, Hollywood screen writer, and a social innovator. My heart was racing it was just hours ago I stepped off the blue bus onto 23rd and 7th Ave right next to the Fashion Institute.

Fast movements greeted me everywhere, the sounds of taxis honking, trucks barreling down the street, people walking towards destinations I would never know, nor would never think about. I have arrived in THE CITY I thought, New York here I am! See this was my first time in the city since 1996, when I was ten years old wearing a puffy Tommy Hilfiger jacket and a black knitted new york hat, I was in love even then, my eyes glimmering with the lights, reflecting dreams of a boy whom thought he could make it in this world. Taking in these sights and sounds, I was instantly a ten-year-old boy again.

Why was I there at that particular moment? Going back a few months into the summer, well specifically June 2013. Months before I had taken a job at notable museum in Boston conducting surveillance at night while freelance designing during the day. In the afternoon of June 23, I abruptly arose from my daytime slumber, my father speaking in a tone I knew could bring no good, he said, “Rob, Jay and Dave are waiting for you, they have something to tell you”. I immediately rose, greeting both my old friends in a sleepy daze wondering why they were standing in my bedroom waiting for me to awake, though I knew even then deep down in my soul, I knew something was amiss, little did I know what they had to say would change my life forever. (even now my eyes shimmer with tears, reflecting upon this moment)

What they came to tell me, what couldn’t be communicated over the phone, nor text was that our best friend Steven was killed during the night, June 22 around 10:30 pm, when I was safely at work observing precious works of art, seemingly priceless at the time. I can’t explain the overwhelming emotions that swam through my veins. I believe I asked “ What, what did you say?” and then breaking down into the deepest sobs, while wanting to punch a hole in a wall. My just awoken state could not handle it, my soul broke and lonely tears started to roll.

Later that day, we arrived at his parents house, I can barely remember much detail, since that day was all a haze, though I could not comprehend the immense weight of the hollowness that a soul suddenly leaves behind. His mother Tina, did not leave her room, a sadness of a mother morning her youngest son. I truly knew then “Why the caged bird sang” (see Maya Angelou : )

lingering in the distance I knew needed to start pursuing the impossible.

Back in New York City, that November I knew my destiny called, the path laid before me was perilous at best, challenges unknown, unseen lying within the valleys of the mountains one has to climb just to get down. But first, I had to leap to pursue the purest form of passion…freedom to be a self-made individual.