Started by photographer Brandon Stanton, Humans of New York is a New York City-based photoblog that has received critical acclaim from The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Village Voice for its introspective look at NYC residents. Armed with only a camera and an intuitive need to find compelling stories, Stanton traverses the mean streets of New York, capturing photos and tales from random individuals. We have collected 80 heart-warming stories from this Instagram account for you read. Have a beautiful day, friends.

1Today in micro fashion


2

I wanted to be a famous author. Literature has been my passion since childhood. We’re in Paris, it’s sunny, I have wonderful friends-- maybe I should just be enjoying these things instead of thinking about how to package and share them. So I got a job in communications. And I mainly just wrote for my own enjoyment: poems, notes, journals. But I never shared a thing. Not a single page. With anyone. But last year I wrote a story. A complete story. A real story. With two characters, a beginning, and an end. I thought: ‘Maybe it’s not too bad. We must test. Maybe this is the moment.’ So a few months ago I submitted it to a contest in my town. It’s just a small town. And just a very little contest. But this morning I got the email. I won the prize. And I’m just so happy. This weekend I’m going to the beach with my family. I can’t wait to tell my mother. I can’t believe I get to say these words--the greatest words: ‘I will be published


3

“She was proud. She seemed detached. She wasn’t really looking for boys. It took me a few weeks to get my first date. I learned later that she acted this way because of everything she’d been through. Her parents abandoned her when she was born. She’d lived in several group homes. And that’s why she always seemed so cold. But once I got to know her, she changed completely. She was funny. She was sensitive. Small things touched her. One day we saw two seagulls fighting on the beach, and one of them was getting the better of the other. I thought it was funny. It just seemed like nature to me, but when I looked at her she had tears in her eyes. We stayed together for a year. Things got really heavy. She was my first love. But I graduated first and went off to university. I had a new life at school. I didn’t want to be in a relationship anymore. So we lost contact. She told me there was no need to keep in touch because we’d never been friends— only lovers. Three years later I took a trip with my friends to a city in Belgium. We went there often because it was just across the border. That night we decided to walk through the red light district. At first I didn’t recognize her. She was older. She had on a lot of makeup. She was wearing lingerie. But then we made eye contact. She didn’t seem ashamed. She seemed sad, but not ashamed. I quickly looked away because I was scared my friends would notice. That night I went back to my hotel and sobbed. I’m not sure if it’s because of what happened to her. Or because my initial reaction had been shame. But I tried to make it right. I went back and found her. She told me her life was none of my business anymore.” (Paris, France)


4

My husband and I are leaving Paris after ten years. We have so many memories in this garden. Our first date was at a nearby café. We ate chicken with coconut sauce and walked down Boulevard St. Michel. We sat in front of Notre Dame for a long time. We kissed. And this is the very bench I was sitting on three years later-- when I called my mother and told her that I wouldn’t be coming back to our island. Because I met a guy. A white guy. I’d been avoiding telling her for years because our culture is very traditional. My hands were trembling. I’d just scored well on an examination, so I gave her the good news first. Then I said: ‘Mom, I need to tell you something. I’ve met someone-- his name is Michel.’ There were thirty seconds of silence. Then she replied: ‘That doesn’t sound like a Muslim name. But if you’re happy, and he has values, then that’s OK.’ I felt so much relief. It was such a beautiful moment. But it was only a moment. Because then she said: ‘Now it’s time to tell your father


5

We’re eating cookies before lunch because Grandpa doesn’t have any rules.


6

I knew immediately. I get a breast exam every year, so I know what normal is supposed to look like. I could see the tumor on the screen. It was messy. It was black. But I didn’t feel shocked. I was calm. My surgery was scheduled for Valentine’s Day. And you know what? That was the most beautiful Valentine’s Day of my life. Because I spent it taking care of myself. I had a difficult childhood. Then I had a very hard love story that lasted for twenty years. And when that came to an end, I escaped into my work. I was like a hamster in a wheel: faster, faster, faster. It was easy to rationalize because I work in Women’s Rights. I felt involved in something bigger than myself. But I just wrote reports about the situation. Honestly, I changed myself much more than the country. I was worn down. I had no free time. And my children are grown, so I was wondering if I had any reason to live anymore. Then four months ago the cancer came. It was a blessing in a shitty package. It was something I couldn’t control. And I was forced to accept that. Right now, I’m not doing anything. I’m visiting with friends. I’m taking time to relax. I’m feeling grateful. And I’m asking myself big questions: ‘Where would I like to live?’ ‘What would I like to do?’ Questions I never had the time to ask. But most importantly I’m taking care of myself. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my massage appointment


7

 I asked Santa for a really small dog that never grows up


8

My mother got blood cancer seven years ago. But she recovered-- and we had five more years after that. Those years were the happiest moments of our lives. We never knew how much time we had left, but we knew it was limited. We’d always been best friends. I told her my secrets. She gave me advice. She cooked for me like I was still a child. But before the cancer, things were so casual. She was always around. Nothing seemed important. She was strong. She was independent. She didn’t seem to need attention. But when she was given a new life-- I cherished her more. I became nicer. Softer. More sensitive to her needs. We started hugging. We hadn’t hugged since childhood, but we started hugging. I can be difficult sometimes. I’m stubborn. I don’t agree easily. But she never had to convince me again. I took her to restaurants, movies, weddings. I found her artificial hair so she looked beautiful again. I sewed her the best dresses ever. I wanted to make her new life comfortable. And it was. It was the happiest she’s ever been. Eventually the cancer came back. It’s been over two years since she passed. For the longest time I cried like a baby. In the office. In the car. At church. She was my best friend. The world feels empty without her. Even last night I dreamed about her. But I know I must move on. I still think about her all the time. But now I don’t always cry. Sometimes I smile.”


9

My mom has a lot of heels and I put them on when she can’t see but she always catches me because I never put them back in the right place. One time I even scratched the floor of her room but she hasn’t found that yet because I rubbed it out like Cinderella


10

I’ve worked all my life as an office clerk. But when I was young, I dreamed of being an important writer. I won some prizes in my town. But mainly I used writing as a weapon, because I was completely in love with a girl who liked reading. At the time she was dating another boy in class who played basketball. He was popular. Quite a bit taller than me. Eventually he went on to play for the national team. And I was so shy. I could barely speak to her. At the end of the year I wrote her a long letter declaring my love. She broke up with the basketball player over the summer, and when I returned to school the following year, she’d written ‘Yes’ on my desk. Everything changed. The world had light and color. There was no more rain. We’d go walking in the town center. We went dancing. But when Christmas came around, she told me we needed to talk. She was getting back together with the basketball player. So I played all my cards. I wrote a short story. It was about two soldiers competing for a woman’s love. One of them was a powerful lieutenant. The other was a simple soldier, who loved her more and later died in battle. When I finished I asked her to read it. She told me it was very nice, then married the basketball player


11

Something happened the second year of college. I grew very hard on myself. I became sad, and disappointed, and angry. But then I met a girl—the first I’d ever been with. And everything was postponed for a while. I felt energized. I was even doing my homework. But now we’ve broken up, and I’m having to face all the stuff that the relationship allowed me to ignore. I’m overthinking everything: ‘What should I do? What shouldn’t I do?’ But the actual doing never happens because I have no motivation. I’m sad all the time. It’s worst when I go to bed, and I realize that I haven’t done anything, and that I won’t do it tomorrow either. A lot of people believe in me, but they’re getting tired because I’m not there yet. And it’s not their responsibility anyway—it’s mine. I’m just afraid I’ll never get back to the way I used to feel. The feeling of being awake. And loving myself. And getting out of the house. And exercising. And going to the beach. And hanging out with friends on Sunday evenings. And thinking just the right amount of thoughts. No suspicions. Or criticisms. Or fears of the future. Only the thoughts that are useful. The thoughts I need in this moment


12

I liked drugs, but that wasn’t the reason. And it wasn’t that I needed money either. I had money. I just wanted more of it. Back then I could rob every bank in the city and nobody would notice. There were hardly any cameras. I robbed about thirty before I even got caught. But one night when I was twenty-five years old, I went to rob a jewellery store. The guy was a criminal himself. He bought jewellery from thieves. Of course, I thought he’d panic and give me the money, but he pulled a gun on me. So, I shot him twice. I only meant to shoot him once but I squeezed the trigger too hard. He ended up losing an arm. And I went to jail for thirteen years—that son of a bitch. He should have just stayed put. Now I’m 62. I’m a veteran. I just got out of jail for the seventh time in December. I’m sleeping on this bench. Looking back, it’s been a horrible life. I should have done things differently. I should have invested the money I stole.


13

When I was younger, I had dreams of discovering something big. I’m a historian. I specialize in the end of the Roman Empire. And I always wanted to uncover something flashy and exciting that would fascinate people. I don’t mean that I’d actually dig something out of the ground. I’m more of a bookworm. I imagined myself in a reading room of the National Library, stumbling across something that others had overlooked. But it never happened. I’m 54 now. I’m slowing down a bit. And looking back-- I don’t think I was ever a pioneer in anything I did. I grew to realize that knowledge is a community, and my role would be to add a tiny grain of rice to the pile. But that was still exciting for me. Learning new things was the biggest passion of my life. It was only frustrating when I tried to share that knowledge. I had to accept that my passion isn’t universal, and in the end my work might only benefit a few people. But that’s OK. A few months ago I received a call from a teacher in Italy. She told me that she’d read all my works. And that she agreed with my interpretations. And that she planned to incorporate them into her own work. It was a wonderful feeling to know that my books weren’t just gathering dust in a library somewhere. And that even if I didn’t blaze a path, I helped widen it for others


14

People take you to fun places when you’re five, but unfortunately you also have to study difficult topics. Today I had to write ‘toothbrush’ in all capital letters


15

It started when she was nine years old. The first thing I remember is the arguing about food. My parents would tell her to eat. She’d say she wasn’t hungry. There was weighing of the food. My father would lose his temper, but she still wouldn’t eat. Once he got so angry that he hit her. From the age of ten to thirteen she went to a hospital in Barcelona. Occasionally she’d come home to visit, but mostly I only heard from her through letters. Nobody explained to me what was going on. They only told me she was very sick. I didn’t even hear the word ‘anorexia’ until several years later. Things got even worse when she came home from the hospital. The illness was even more ingrained. She’s twenty-five now. There have been periods where she seems to be getting better, but it always gets worse again. It’s taken a toll on my parents. Both of them look like they’re in their seventies. My mom is on antidepressants. The therapists have told them that the disease has gone on for so long now—that it will probably be lifelong. Whenever I try to ask my sister about it, we always argue. She gets frustrated. She feels attacked. So I’ve stopped trying. It was only two months ago that she finally admitted having a problem. We were walking home from a family dinner, and she told me everything started when she was nine years old. She was meeting a group of friends at the mall. And a group of boys started making fun of her. She had a lot of freckles back then. And bright red hair. And maybe she was a little bit chubby. But just the smallest bit


16

We had a very difficult time back in Venezuela. There was no going to school or visiting friends. We couldn’t even go out on the street. All the time I was telling her ‘no.’ ‘Can we go to the park?’ No. ‘Can we go on a walk?’ No. ‘Can we get some ice cream?’ No. She couldn’t comprehend why she was being restricted. I could only explain that the situation was very bad. I was stressed because I wanted to give her a better life, but I had no options. It was very difficult to get out. It took a lot of planning, but we were finally able to move to Madrid. We’ve been here since November. It’s just us. I’m separated from her father, so we’re all alone. But I don’t feel alone. Everyone has been very kind. And I’m able to enjoy her more. She’s more emotionally stable. We’re bonding more. I’m able to see her laughing, growing up, and free. We don’t have to feel afraid. We don’t have a curfew. We don’t have to watch the clock. Today we spent all day in the park-- just laughing, and exploring, and breathing fresh air


17

It wasn’t a secret. The first day we met I told her I was bisexual, and that I’d been with men and women my entire life. At the time she shrugged it off. And it wasn’t an issue for the first ten years of our marriage. The relationship was perfectly loving and stable. But then I don’t know—something happened. It wasn’t a particular man. I never cheated on her. It was something abstract. I just missed relationships with men. So I told her. I was honest. But when I uttered that thing it was like a bomb went off. She turned away her face like she’d been slapped very hard. It caused her so much pain. She lost a lot of weight. We cried and cried and cried about it. For three years we cried. We’d meet at Starbucks every day and cry in front of everyone. We didn’t live together after that. And we were never sexual again. But we were still intimate. We still took a lot of naps together. I always held her. We’d go shopping and walk arm-in-arm. She kept my last name and called me her gay husband. Her health began to deteriorate in 2007. It was a nerve disease. She lost her hearing. Then her sight. And I took care of her. She always told me to forget about her. To go out there and find a good guy. But I stayed by her side. We’d never officially gotten divorced, which helped in the end. They let me in the hospital room as her husband. I wasn’t allowed to touch her, but I was right next to her as she died, breathing with her. It’s been two years now. I’ll move away soon. There’s nothing left in this city for me. But first I’m going to have a ceremony in Central Park, and give an envelope of her ashes to everyone who loved her. I don’t know whether to call her my wife. It’s not important to me. Alexandra was the love of my life


18

I go to Miami every weekend to see my cats—Woody and Zoey. They live with my mother. I take the bus to wherever I can get the cheapest flight. Sometimes that’s Detroit. Sometimes Philadelphia. This week it was New York. The travel is exhausting but it’s cheaper than getting a pet friendly apartment. It was supposed to be a temporary situation, but I’ve been making the trip for about five years now. They rely on me. They’re like my kids. And they’re getting old. I don’t know why I’m so attached. I get that way. Grey’s Anatomy has been dumb for the past twelve seasons but I still watch every week and cry. I could find the cats a new home, but how do you find the right person? Every amazing person already has eight cats. Anyway, my sister told me never to talk about my cats unless people ask. But you asked. Can we talk about my kidney instead? Last year I donated a kidney


19

I had the usual anxieties when I was younger. Making good grades. Keeping my parents happy. So there were elements of my personality that were drawn to being a rabbi. I thought it would give me a platform to guide people and make them happy. Pleasing people in exchange for adoration was a very convenient arrangement for me. But I forgot that if you’re in a position to please people, you’re also in a position to disappoint. In many ways the rabbi is a symbol. People see you as a symbol of how God thinks. Or feels towards them. Or acts toward them. And that’s a lot of pressure. There’s pressure to be fully present for everyone—even at the supermarket or Sunday soccer games. You always want to give comfort. Or a thoughtful response. Or at the very least your undivided attention. And that can be exhausting, especially in the age of the iPhone. I had a wild dream one night that all eight hundred families at my synagogue were lined up outside my office. And everyone needed me at the exact same time


20

Even if you’re on a boat you don’t have to be scared of waves because they’re just big pieces of water that come together when gravity falls down from the moon and into the water. Gravity is all over the moon. It’s in the bottom of the craters and astronauts can bring it back in rockets. You don’t even have to put it in a bucket. It just sort of follows you. But there’s no gravity in outer space. If I went to outer space I’d visit to a planet that’s a summer planet-- where the aliens are swimming and drinking milkshakes and stuff. That’s because summer is my favorite season. I know all this stuff because I do science class


21

It feels like Miles has been home forever. He’s four years old now. He runs to me every time I open the door. He wants to play non-stop. He’s the master of high-fives. He’s the master of hugging the dog. He’s also the master of needing attention while you’re on the phone. Or when you just want to relax and watch TV for a second. But it always goes from frustrating to heart-warming in a second. Even though he can’t express himself, he’s amazingly empathetic. He’s drawn to people who look alone. There are meltdowns. And there are days when I feel like I’m not qualified for any of this. But on the days you don’t think you can get through it— you don’t realize that you’re getting through it. And in the end, you’re getting more than you ever give. Recently my wife started sending me pictures of other children, but I always said ‘no.’ Until I saw Mile’s little sister for the first time. She’s from the same orphanage. Her name is Maddie. We submitted our papers three weeks ago


22

We were extremely lucky. We completed the entire process in fourteen months and travelled to Taiwan on January 21st of 2017. The next morning we went straight to the orphanage. We sat in a waiting room on the ground floor, and after ten minutes they brought Miles around the corner. My wife dropped to her knees and hugged him like she’d never let him go. And of course that broke me down. I’m thinking ‘Oh my God, this is my boy.’ But when I went to pick him up, he started crying. I’m telling him: ‘No, no, no! I’m Baba, I’m Baba.’ But he didn’t want me touching him. I went from the top of the world to the darkest valley. I tried playing with him. I tried getting him a Happy Meal. But he didn’t want any of it. Nothing was going right. I felt so rejected. This went on for two days. Then on the third day we were sitting in our hotel room, and my wife left us alone while she took a shower. And all of the sudden this little boy started looking at me. And he had the biggest smile on his face


23

The application process was a nightmare. It’s like a messy divorce where they examine every little detail of your life. People try to scare the crap out of you about how emotionally damaged the kid will be. The agency made us sign a contract acknowledging fourteen ways the adoption could fall through—and there weren’t any refunds. They warned it could take two years. And it’s so expensive-- $32,000. But at that point Miles’ picture was hanging all over our house. We talked about him all the time. He was already our son, but he was sitting in an orphanage. We needed to get him home as quickly as possible. I took out a loan against my retirement. I racked up so much credit card debt. I planned on using the reward points to buy his plane ticket home. Miles spent his second birthday at the orphanage. We filled a box with $300 worth of presents. It cost even more to ship. Inside we put his very first pair of walking shoes. Hip-hugger pants to help with his posture. A t-shirt that said: ‘Someone in Fairfax, VA loves me.’ And Mickey Mouse party favors for all the kids at the orphanage. Then we ordered him a cake from a local bakery. A few weeks later, the orphanage sent us a picture from the party


24

Ms. Purevsuren is everything to me. She’s the best special education teacher in all of Mongolia. She loves all of her students. When my mother died two years ago, my school wanted to send me to an orphanage. But Ms. Purevsuren volunteered to take care of me. She has children of her own and her salary is low— but still she takes care of me. She lifts me up. She pays for all my expenses. She cooks me food every night. She even gathered a collection to buy me this judo uniform. It’s the first time I’ve ever worn new clothes. My mother would be so happy if she could see me right now. She’d be so thankful. I want so badly to win a medal, but I know that’s just a small thing. One day I will truly pay Ms. Purevsuren back. I will become an adult. I will make her proud. And I will take care of her when she’s old-- just like she took care of me


25

I remember saying these horrible things. Just shut up. Just please stop crying for a second. I even had these thoughts about putting her outside. These aren’t good memories to have. But those first years were so dark. There was no respite. No days with grandma. Nobody to tell me: ‘She has a problem and here’s how you get through it.’ We were all on our own. And I acted pretty ugly. There were times when I hated her. There was a lot of yelling. I’d get mad when we didn’t know math today that we knew yesterday. We’d spend hours on every assignment. And then there was the movie thing. I’m not sure if she told you about the movie thing. But every time she felt overwhelmed she’d recite movies word-for-word. And she’d come home with tears on her glasses because the other kids would make fun of her. And I just wanted her to stop. It’s not difficult. Just stop talking to yourself. Everything was so hard, and I wanted it to hurry up. It was so much work. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t get out of my own head. I was never able to say: ‘Fuck it. We’re not doing this today. You don’t have to improve today. It’s OK for you to be who you are.’ I never got there. But I know I’m forgiven. The Bible doesn’t say that you have to forgive yourself. I know I’m forgiven. And Renee forgives me of course. I’ve apologized so many times. She doesn’t like to see me cry, so she just pats me on the back and says: ‘I know, Mom. I know.’ I just wish I could have known that we’d get here one day. I never thought she’d find her way out. That she’d find her voice. That one day she’d be able to tell me how lonely she felt

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