New York City has always called to me. From the time I first heard of the place, I knew it was home. I longed to visit the bustling city full of lights and sounds and smells and obnoxious people. When I finally had the opportunity to visit last year, for the first time in my life, I felt like a naive child who had never left her home and was seeing outdoors for the first time. As soon as we touched down and I stepped foot into LaGuardia, I felt alive. My heart began beating for the first time and I took my first ever breath.
Catching an über was exhilarating and the hour drive into Manhattan was like a dream. I couldn’t get enough of the skyline, the old, tall buildings, and the people. OH the people. These people who live in New York City and call this busy place home. Every time we passed a school I couldn’t believe there were children in there learning, who would then walk or take the subway home and eat dinner and lie their little heads down on pillows in their apartments in the sky.
That thing you don’t want to live in in the south. The place where you go to find housing when you can’t afford the white picket fence American Dream.
That thing you live in in New York City because that’s really all there is. Where your space is precious and premium.
I stayed with friends at the New York Hilton Midtown where we had a large corner room. According to Amy, this room was abnormally large for New York, and it was plenty big for the three of us. I could have stayed in a shoe box on the corner of 57th and 7th and been just as happy as I was looking at the gridlock on Avenue of the Americas below us. From our room we could see the LOVE statue and Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center and the Late Night With Jimmy Fallon sign.
Every time we stepped out into the street, I inhaled the sweet scent of Manhattan; all fuel, cigarettes, sweat, and energy. It was the best thing I had ever smelled in my life.
I hailed my first taxi and walked into the middle of the road before the crosswalk signs told me to, because I was home. I AM New York City.
The chaos calmed me but energized me at the same time. Sitting here just thinking about it almost makes my heart beat out of my chest and my productivity shoots sky-high. It’s like my entire being is longing for Manhattan, where it always wanted to be yet never quite made it to. I can feel every cell in my body buzzing like the lights in Times Square, lighting up my existence.
I saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch my first night in Manhattan, and experienced deliciously cheap Japanese food at Sarku. I took my first bite of Junior’s cheesecake and experienced pure, unadulterated bliss, because it really is unlike any other cheesecake I’ve ever had the pleasure to consume. The whole restaurant had the pleasure of seeing my O-face when I took my first bite. You’re welcome, New York.
I went up and down Chelsea Piers, ate at a Jewish diner with all the accoutrement, and stayed with a friend in her penthouse apartment and commuted to and from work with her for three days.
Yes, I lived in New York City like a New Yorker for three days. Three days of energy and passion unlike any I’ve felt before, even in the face of flying down a mountain on skis. Three days where my own dream came true and I felt actual fulfillment.
I had a $25 New York City mani/pedi in the Upper West Side and discovered Sugar and Plumm where I gorged myself on savory crepes and sweet macarons.
I ate street meat and was taken on a tour of the city by car where I saw Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Meatpacking District where I discovered The Standard, a hotel I will stay in before I die.
I peeked in the door of Hogs and Heifers which inspired the movie, “Coyote Ugly” and I walked and walked and walked and ran in my gold Tieks through Times Square to get to Les Mis on time. I laughed and stared in wonder and the crowds parted for me like the Red Sea, I believe, because my energy in this place was so huge people had to get out of its way.
And it has called to me even stronger since I left. I am alive in Manhattan, alive and well. The skyline beckons me, the scent of the air sings to me, Central Park whispers in my ear “come and lie in my grasses”, the train lines point me toward this place where my spirit feels at home.
Nowhere else am I as alive as I am in Manhattan.