Living in New York City had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Like most people who have ever watched any New York based television show, you have an innate sense of what the experience would be; strutting down 5th avenue with three of your best friends as you discuss shoes and/or men or running into a sarcastic witty comedian on the subway as he makes his way to his stand-up show. Finding yourself on the busy Wall street sure that at least one of the many men in Suits is an impostor posing as a lawyer or some such.
Either way you’re sat there, sure that your life belongs in the city that never sleeps, that it will begin there.
American television has forged the way we think our experience in New york will be like. And in many ways it leaves you apprehensive when you finally have the opportunity to live it for however brief of a time. And the thing is, at lease for me its been even better than the dream.
My time in the city so far has been nothing like I thought it would be. Its not the glossy city from the television screen, full of rude cab drivers and pushy people, well not exactly, it is dirty and smelly, people do push you out of the way and keep on going. People seldom say please and thank you. But for some reason you love the city even more for this. New York is gritty, its real. There is no permission or gratitude handed out willy nilly. When New Yorkers say ‘thank you’, they thank you. You know they mean it. When you say ‘please’ the gratitude on their faces or in their voice is palpable, reminding you how easily you had taken these seemingly trivial gestures for granted. It moves you and makes your day. New Yorkers are real. They are polite, but not for the sake of it. Living in this city makes you appreciate of the little things and the big ones. The homeless man on the street asks how you are, not because he wants a dollar or two from you but because he is genuinely curious about the stranger on the park bench with him. You have a fleeting but meaningful conversation with him and you know that little more about that stranger, that little ore about new york, that little more about yourself. You leave with a sense of serenity, that is what New York does to you.
I remember walking down the conner of 59th street and 8th avenue, seeing the steam coming out of one of the manholes, cliché I know, yet I swear I could hear a jazzy blues number playing in my head as a yellow cab honked its horn. That is what New york does to you.
Its not all jazz and blues however, New york really is a land of opportunity but you have to work for it. The difference is, at least in my experience, you never feel like you’re actually working, working hard in new york has a different feel to it. Effortless comes to mind. That’s what New York does to you.
I have met loads of interesting people in this journey so far. Many of whom I consider friends. One of whom just the other day made a comment about how one of the things she loves about the city is that the people you meet are rarely ever from the city. I have to agree with that. New Yorkers in my brief experience are not actually from New York. When you’re here there is an almost tangible magic in the air that binds you to one another, the city shapes you, makes you a stronger assertive person, sure of yourself and what you want.
Even the New York architecture is nothing short of inspiring, very different and unique depending on what part of the city you find yourself in. You can’t help but crank your neck to glimpse the iconic fire escape steps that leaves you with that tingle of realisation that your actually here in New York City, or the grand entry steps of the west village. Or the the awe-inspiring park slap bang in the middle of it all. Everything about this city yields for admiration from the street performers to the museums, the food in the most creative restaurants, the music and musicians, the city is a wealth of inspiration of artists alike.
My time here has been nothing short of exhilarating bliss. Its been a blessing.
This city truly doesn’t sleep, it breathes, New york has a heart beat to it that drums to the beat of yours and you have no choice but to feel alive.
And at night the city really does come to life.
I recently found myself, as you eventually do in this city, rooming with three very interesting and diverse people I met a while ago. An actress, a model and a journalist. I decided to pick their brains as to their individual experience living and working in the city so far… ( article series: Rooming in New York coming soon)