4 minute read




Bank Teller

Photographed by DeSean McClinton-Holland / @dsmch
“I’ve done many, many jobs, like babysitter, dog walker, and florist. And now I am working as a banker. I love it. I really do. I love talking to people and helping them with things that matter to them.”

“ I grew up in a pre-war building where my dad was the super. My mom and dad slept in one room, and then me and my three brothers were in one room. I didn’t realize I was poor until my teens. Then I started noticing other people growing up around me and their home situations. I’ve always been very motivated and kind of stubborn with wanting better for myself. I thought I deserved a lot better than what I had.”

“My dad was not a good person. He wouldn’t really acknowledge me. When he came home from work he would just stay on the bed and watch TV. He was abusive toward my mom, and to us, too. If we did something bad, it would be an excuse for him to lash out. But if we did something good, no encouragement or acknowledgement at all. I forgive him for everything that he’s done, but I still don’t fully respect him as a father. My mom was the complete opposite, though: super loving, always hugging us, and helping us out.”

“I was seven years old when I decided I didn’t want to be in that household anymore. I wanted out. I turned 19, and I did my thing. I packed up my garbage bag in secret, full of clothes, and moved out. There’s a push to figure out your character, who you are, and what you want out of your life here. It first comes with loving who you are and embracing where you come from.”

“I didn’t do so well in my freshman year. I only went to my math, English, and science classes, and I kind of just left school and hung out at Taco Bell or goofed around in the park with friends. That’s why my parents sent me away to Puerto Rico for a year. That year helped me appreciate a lot more of my culture and my heritage. I’m a Puerto Rican from New York, and I’m proud of it.”

“I’m narcissistic. I don’t hate that. I have my own goals that I want to achieve. I’m not going to let someone stand in my way, you know? New York is a narcissistic place. But realizing it’s not necessarily a bad thing, when it’s about reaching your goals, you can appreciate this city more. Just don’t be a pushover, because New Yorkers could easily take advantage of people’s kindness. You start to learn when to shut down the kindness if you live here. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You learn how to read other New Yorkers’ motivations and their intent—sometimes selfish intent—which is a blessing of growing up here.”

“Love is a beautiful thing to have for yourself, and to share. You can also have bad, harsh love, like my dad, who was rude, neglectful, and abusive. But I still love that part of my life because it developed who I am and helped me realize what I don’t want to be. Love fluctuates, but it’s beautiful no matter what.”

“ Accepting people for who they are is the only way to adapt to New York. I believe in care and love for your fellow neighbor without discrimination. I think it’s beautiful that we can express that love universally here in New York, and appreciate that we are all one.”


What neighborhood do you live in? I live in Forest Hills, a neighborhood in Queens.

Best thing about living there? It’s the neighborhood I grew up in. It’s a pretty spot that has some unique architecture, like in Forest Hills Gardens, taking inspiration from English Tudor-style homes. It’s family-oriented and there is a bit of peace living here.

Favorite neighborhood? Forest Hills is my favorite. It’s lovely living here and hanging around the neighborhood. It’s conveniently located to the other boroughs. I have friends here, and most of my family is here. Forest Park is a nice walk away, and Flushing Meadows is close by. The best part is the gardens. Walking through this serene and scenic section of Forest Hills is truly meditative and peaceful. And Peter Parker is from Forest Hills.

Favorite street to stroll? Greenway South is my favorite.

Why? It’s located in the Forest Hills Gardens, and it’s gorgeous. You can take any side street, and keep enjoying the beauty of the neighborhood. It’s also a few minutes walking away for me.

Favorite restaurant? Jajaja Plantas Mexicanas, Samurai Papa and Peacefood Cafe.

Favorite bar? Sycamore Bar. It’s a flower shop and a bar.

Hidden gem? Besides the Gardens, Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City.

How to be(come) a New Yorker? I think the only way to truly be a New Yorker is having been born and raised here. Growing up in this unique city, you figure out your ‘true’ self early on and develop your personal character.

Your New York soundtrack? Can I kick It? by A Tribe Called Quest.

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