A New Chapter

My world changed ten days ago when my sister burst through the door of my bedroom and scared me half to death. After she finished laughing, she said, “Justine just posted on Facebook that she needs a roommate in New York City, and I think you should be it.”

I thought I should be, too. So did Justine.

I’m moving to New York. I have no idea what I will do, but I know that for at least three months I will live in Manhattan.

I am scared.

I was perusing the files on my computer yesterday, and I found a document that I don’t remember writing. It was called quite simply, “New York,” and was about my thoughts and feelings about my visit to the island of Manhattan in the summer of 2010.

After reading what I wrote then – whenever this was – I’m still scared, but I’m even more excited.

I thought I’d share it with you.

Times Square, January 2012

New York

I remember my heart began to beat fast as the escalator drew me up from underground and into New York City. I remember being even a little bit afraid – this was New York. Why had I come here? I was going to get mugged or hurt or something. I should just turn around and go back down and get on a train and head home to Virginia, and hang the costs! Hang the Wicked tickets! Hang vacation!

And then I was stumbling off the escalator and being swept forward to a taxicab by my grandfather, and all I could do was stare up.

The skyscrapers were overwhelming.

The sky was just little jigsaw shapes of blue – the world of New York City was cars and metal and noise, and I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I just gaped at it all.

We got in a cab, and I sat in the middle of the backseat between my grandmother and my mother. I didn’t want to see outside – I wasn’t sure if I could handle it. We drove to Times Square and our hotel, and as I waited while my grandfather paid, I just couldn’t stop staring.

Staring up.

It felt as if the city was going to come crashing down on my head, so I kept looking up. It was either look up or keep my head down and hunch over like a hunchback avoiding the sky falling.

Eventually, this bizarre and discombobulating feeling gave way, and I began to gape and stare at the people around me.

My God, but New York is a fascinating place.

All of the clichés and sayings and stereotypes – they’re all true. What more can I add to the myth and legend of New York City? What more is there to say than that it’s big, it’s loud, it’s fast, it’s crowded, it’s busy, it’s diverse?

How about this?

New York is alive, and being in New York is being a part of the world.

It’s not like London or Paris. Sure, those cities are wonderful and beautiful, but New York? To be in New York – even for a visit – is to be a part of something.

And as an Anglophile, I don’t say that lightly.

New York – New York is a living entity. There’s an energy that never shuts down. She’s ambitious and powerful and beautiful.

To be in New York is to be alive.

My only reason for going to New York was to see a play. I really wasn’t all that interested in much else, but thankfully I had my grandfather with me, and that man cannot just sit idly by when there’s a chance to explore. And so explore I did, and every place I went revealed fifty more things to see and do and learn. When it was time to go home, there was so much I still wanted to do, and my heart was breaking to leave.

I stood in Times Square, and I didn’t feel like a faceless person lost in the crowd. I felt like I was actually Somebody. Like I could do anything and be anyone. I felt as if I could conquer the world.

New York isn’t a city. She’s life.

My grandfather and I in NYC, 2010.


One thought on “A New Chapter

  1. I agree. I have never been to a city that when I left, I thought to myself, “This city is like a living being.”

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