Eight years ago, on January 7, 2009, I hopped on a one-way flight to New York City….
Actually, wait. Let me start the story somewhere else.
Nine years ago I jumped on the stage to dance with the band at a bar/live music venue in the West Village. Maybe I was drunk, maybe I was excited because the band was playing the anthem of my hometown hero, Justin Timberlake, but I made my way to the front of the room, climbed on the stage, and showed a room full of tourists and New Yorkers, just how I bring sexy back.
My friend, a pretty straight-laced Columbia student from Ohio, was horrified. I hadn’t prepared him for that. But, I felt liberated. It was as if I had found my space in the world, and when the song ended, I’d made up my mind: I would be damned if I let that feeling, and subsequently this city, go.
So, a year and a half later I bought a one-way ticket, a new giant suitcase, and set out for adventures unknown.
And here I am, 2,920 days later, still ready to jump on a stage at the sound of a good beat, but now knowing that moving to New York, and more importantly surviving in New York takes more than the willingness to shimmy in front of a crowd of strangers.
In the years that I have lived here, many people (all non New Yorkers) have asked me the blanket question, “How is it living in New York?” and at eight years in, I still have no idea how to answer them.
When they ask me this, I have the sneaking suspicion that a montage of every single movie they have ever seen that has been set in New York flashes through their mind. Inevitably a lot of blown up buildings, a giant gorilla, Christmas lights, and a little blond boy jumping on a bed at the Crowne Plaza.
Usually I giggle at the thought, but then the sobering reality that they want an actual answer hits me.
Damn. What to say?
I have to decide if I want to kill off Santa, or pose as a part of the elf posse.
In other words, do I tell the truth, or do I lie as to not shift their perception that living in New York HAS to be cool shit….or why else would anyone put up with those millions of people and those high-ass rents? I think to myself…
Do I tell them that sometimes the radiator doesn’t work in my building, and I have dreams about central heat systems?
Do I say that a linen closet has become my standard for “good living”?
Do I mention all of the times that I have worried that I would fall flat on my face and chip a tooth as I’ve run after the M60 bus, or slid into the subway car just before the doors close?
Or maybe I lead with how it feels to have various limbs go numb because there are no seats on the train and you are forced to stand for your entire forty minute commute?
I could lead with that, or maybe I say…
How it feels to be on the rooftop of a building in the city, twirl, take in the 360 view, and feel like everything you have ever dreamed about or aspired to be is in the palm of your hand.
How it feels to share a laugh with a stranger you just know you will never see again, only to see that person the next week, city of 8.5 million, be damned.
How it feels to wander through the streets alone at night, basking in the glow of endless lights and wonder what it would feel like to own one of those places.
Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park on the first truly warm day of the year.
Losing control, and accepting that magic means you never had control in the first place.
Knowing that every type of random class, food, music, or person you could ever imagine is steps away from being a part of your consciousness.
Or most importantly, the feeling if you work hard enough, grind more than the next, and believe more than others, that your dreams can indeed come true…it’s just a matter of time.
The truth is that it is all of that.
It’s the snow and the sunshine, the stinky train and the delicious food, the hope of a dream, and the crush of reality. All rolled into one. It is hard to celebrate this city in only a positive light. To do so would be unfair to the essence that makes New York what is is: trepidation mixed with magic….dashed in with a drop of homeless man sweat for flavor.
But clearly, underneath it all, I must still like the taste, as eight years later, here I am, and here I go, right?
To my lovely New York City, happy eight years to us! I hate you. You suck….I’m kidding! You know I love you boo…with your crazy ass.
P.S. Hey you! If you felt this post, please do share with a friend, an enemy, or those random people that follow you on Facebook, Twitter, and Insta. Show a sista some love, ya dig?
P.P.S. I’d love to hear from you too…comment below? Go ahead! Make me smile!