New York is a magical place. It’s also a tough place, a busy place, a chew you up, spit out the bones kind of place. And as of October 2012 it’s been my home.
As long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to live in New York. The land of dreams, fortune and fame! Where actors come to act, musicians come to make music, writers come to write and everyone comes to make a better life.
When I was a teenager looking to take the world by storm with words, New York was where I wanted to be. I applied to university after university, completing financial aid forms and praying that my Big Apple dreams would come to fruition. I imagined traipsing through the city, seeing stars and having opportunity fall at feet. That’s not quite how things turned out and much to my dismay my New York dreams were shattered.
Life went on as usual, I stayed in Philly and started blogging. But New York always stayed in the back of my mind and from time to time I’d take the short trip up and always wonder when I’d set foot for good.
On one particular trip to NY, I sat with a good girlfriend of mine, a New Yorker, eating lunch and talking about our future. I mentioned that I was apartment hunting in Philly and she exclaimed, “Move to New York! You belong here. You should totally move to New York!” Her enthusiasm all but bowled me over. She was right! I needed to be in New York and while I had resigned to staying put in Philly I couldn’t resist the call of the big city any longer.
I packed up my little apartment (funny how a little apartment can net nearly 20 boxes and a truck full of furniture) and my life and headed to the big city. Upon arrival I didn’t quite have a home. I stayed with my little sister in Staten Island and let me tell you, riding the Ferry is an experience; waving at Lady Liberty, looking out across the water, coming into the city right at the heart of Wall Street. It’s a trip and by trip I mean a two hour trip! (both ways!)
With a long commute, apartment hunting and work on my plate, at times I questioned my journey. I wondered “What am I doing here?”, “Was this really the right decision?” I spent a lot of time thinking about what New York could (and would) mean to me.
In the meantime, I explored. Working right next to Times Square gave me a front row seat to what everyone sees when they come here. The jumbo screens, the flashing lights, the mega stores and the Disney characters, it’s completely over the top and totally New York!
I strolled around the East Village, taking in the shops and vintage stores with their grungy downtown flavor. I walked through Central Park in the middle of Christmas season when the lights are in trees and it’s like a scene from Home Alone. Sat next to Tracee Ellis Ross (gadzooks!!!) at the Bowery Ballroom and rode the subway at 2am with hoards of people like it was 12 in the afternoon.
And I finally moved to Harlem, my official Manhattan address! It took nearly 6 years to get on the island and I can’t believe I’m here.
It’s funny because when you want something for so long, it starts to feel unreal, like maybe it’s just not meant for you. Or maybe it won’t be everything you dreamt it would be. And that’s the case with New York. It’s not quite what I expected: no red carpets, noise is seriously an issue, everything costs about a gazillion dollars but then there are the times when you’re walking around and stop to marvel at where you are and suddenly you realize you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Living in New York is very different than what I imagined. It’s not a Sex and the City romp or a small town girl takes the Big Apple drama. But it can be. That’s the beauty of New York, it can be whatever you want it to. And while I’ve only just set my boots in the concrete jungle I’m excited, hopeful for what the city has to show me.
Photos by Ray Spaddy