I believe in New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I won’t ever dare ask that questions.” -Dylan Thomas
I don’t know when I first fell in love with New York, but I have loved it for so long and so passionately that it’s like another limb on my body.
I tend to romanticize all things. Along the way, I have had my fair share of disappointment. I expect too much and, as a result, almost nothing plays out the way I imagine it in my head. So when I started to make concrete plans of visiting New York for spring break, I couldn’t help but be a little afraid.
For me, New York represents hope, dreams, love, and opportunity. I was afraid of being disappointed and having to let all of that go. I didn’t want to be responsible for willingly ruining that dream.
But New York could never disappoint me. It was everything I expected and more.
I traveled up to New York City from Boone, North Carolina with three other friends. We drove into the city sometime past 9:00 p.m. and basked in the full glory of the city lights.
Immediately, everything was fast paced – the driving, the people crossing the street, the billboard signs, and the checking in of the hotel. Only until we walked to Times Square and stood there in the middle of it all did I have a chance to take it all in. I breathed in deeply. I looked at people’s faces. I felt like my brain couldn’t possibly register it all. A smile was plastered across my face, and I didn’t think it would ever go away.
We stayed for four days. Although we didn’t have enough time to see all that we wanted to, we did get a gist of daily life in New York – exhausting.
Since we stayed at a hotel in Times Square, we took a bus to Upper Manhattan and Lower Manhattan on separate days and still managed to take more than 20,000 steps a day. By the end of the trip my feet ached, I had a blister on my foot, I was sleep deprived, and I was more than ready to have a home cooked meal. But New York was so good to us. New York welcomed us with open arms and treated us like guests of honor.
Throughout our stay, every so often I breathed in deeply and looked at people’s faces. There was so much diversity. I could see the local, the tourists, the students, the wealthy, and the not so wealthy.
On my first ride on the New York Subway, or a subway in general, I was so scared. I’ve seen too many movies, read too many books, and watched too much of the news to relax and enjoy the ride. I was apprehensive and I wish I would have enjoyed it a little more, but the experience was still fulfilling.
On the subway, I searched for a story in people’s expressions, in the way they held themselves. I didn’t want to just glance at another face. I wanted to know them. I wondered about where they were going, where they were coming from, where and how they lived, what was worrying them, and what they dreamed of at night when the sounds of honking and sirens filled the apartment.
I wanted to understand what it was like to call New York home. Even now that I have been and breathed it all in, I cannot put my mind around New York being a real place. I feel like I stepped onto the set of a movie, a dream that I never wanted to wake up from.
I don’t know if I’ll be back in months or years, but I do miss it every day. I miss the yellow taxi cabs and the food trucks. I miss listening to the all the sounds of the night that were so foreign to me when all I’m used to is the silence of the night or the chirping of crickets. I miss seeing the fast pace of people walking to work or stopping to grab a bagel and coffee at a Starbucks located on every corner, literally. I miss the view of the city lights as the sun sets. I miss seeing people toss out the trash in the street every night, as gross as that may seem. I miss the jungle of skyscrapers and living in the bubble that is New York, because when you’re there it’s like nothing else exists. You have all that you need, what with sections of the state that are set apart for specific ethnicities and the constant sound of foreign languages. I miss it all.
Although the trip is over and done, I’m grateful for the hope that New York ingrained in me. Yes, I’m a helpless romantic, I expect too much, and I romanticize everything when I shouldn’t. Being in New York, I realized that not all expectations bring disappointment. I am now more sure of the possibility to fall in love in a coffee shop, I’m sure that New York is a world trapped in a city, and I’m sure that people visit to find bits and pieces of themselves that they thought they had lost long ago.
My dream is to live and work in New York. I don’t know what it’s like to fight in New York. By fight I mean for your dreams, to make a living, to be better than the next person, to make it. I don’t know if I’ll survive that side of New York, but I can strive to make it far enough to get to New York and find out.