Tonight I will be spending the night--the entire night--with 499 people at the New York Public Library as part of a game called Find the Future, a game we have no idea how to play. All we know is that tomorrow morning, at 6 a.m., we will emerge all bleary-eyed and triumphant onto the Fifth Avenue sidewalk brandishing new titles: Published Authors. What we write tonight, together, will be a book about our future. We think. We have no clue! What we do know is that we'll be writing something unprecedented and monumental. And what we complete will be published by the NYPL to be kept in its archives forever.
Needless to say, I'm still freaking out about getting to be a part of this. To enter, you had to write an essay discussing how you want to make history and change the world by finishing the statement: "By the year 2021, I will become the first person to..." I wrote about wanting to tell the story of my immigrant history spanning three cultures, two continents, and one woman. I want to tell this story through writing, film, and performance. I want to tell it with the curiosity of youth and the mark of age. I want to encourage other women to look way back into their pasts and find the ghosts with something to say, the women whose voices were silenced or never deemed worthy enough to be heard.
I hope I can start this process tonight tucked into a cozy corner or splayed out on that glorious marble three floors above 42nd and 5th. I hope I can leave something there that those who come after me can read 100 years from now. My family is the reason I do this, and I thank them for not only encouraging me to take part in this game but for sparking my interest in where I come from in the first place.
Starting Saturday, everyone will be able to take part in the Find the Future game online. You can also help the NYPL celebrate their centennial by checking out a new exhibit featuring pieces from their vast collection such as a John Keats letter to Fanny Brawne, journals from Jack Kerouac and Virginia Woolf, a copy of the Declaration of Independence written in Thomas Jefferson's hand, and Charles Dickens's letter opener featuring his pet cat Bob's taxidermied paw as a handle. Here are a few photos I took yesterday during one of their free, daily tours.
The Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, a repository for the study of English Romanticism.
Charles Dickens's letter opener with cat paw handle.
A hidden reading room, one I plan on haunting tonight.
The journal and personal belongings of Jack Kerouac.
A doll's casket.
The entrance to the New York Public Library.
Please help support the NYPL and all local libraries!