My first night in New York — my first night in college — I realized I could walk down the street and turn whichever direction I wanted. No one would care; hell, no one would notice.

I walked down 14th Street for about 20 minutes, before thinking, “Maybe this is dangerous.” I kept walking, mostly because I could. I readied myself to ward off a mugging, which in my mind was a likely possibility at the time.

At some point, I got lonely, though, so I went back to my dorm. But just because I could, I walked into a bodega and bought a can of orange soda. As I waited in line, I called my mom and told her about my walk.

“The loss of anonymity and the loss of surprise is an unnatural state. You adapt to it, but you don’t get used to it — at least I don’t.”
—Barack Obama (source)

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