When the City Was Still New…

27 March 2016

When I moved to New York City at the end of January, I stepped off of the plane with all the boldness of someone who’s asking to get full-body splashed by a car driving by in the rain. I had hope, I had optimism, I had the balmy vision in my mind’s eye of New York – what it was, what it meant, what it would do for me. I happily skipped all the way from the airport to my new apartment, feeling like a modern day Dorothy in her modern day Oz.

Surely all I had to do was follow the yellow brick road.

However, life is not so simple. Not only did I move to a city where I vaguely knew two of its millions of people, I also moved to a city where millions of other people, it seemed, were fighting for the exact same jobs that I was. So there I was, in a city that never sleeps, a place where the number one line in its elevator pitch was that “there is always something to do”, a place where people have historically flocked to be inspired – and I found myself sleeping actually quite a lot, with seemingly nothing to do (except apply to, by conservative estimates, billions of jobs), disappointingly uninspired.

I remember laying in bed one night, soon after I had arrived in New York, feeling like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I felt lost and confused and very far from home. I closed my eyes and tapped together my imaginary ruby red slippers, wishing that they would take me home, dreaming of evergreens and short buildings and family and friends. Much to my consternation, I opened my eyes to my small, cold apartment, the sound of shouting men echoing in from the street below. I began to think that maybe I had made a horrible mistake: leaving home, leaving comfort, leaving security.

I spent much of my first week like this, in passionate disarray, wondering why everything felt so wrong.

That is until I realized that New York is not a passive player. It is not something to be adventured in or to be inspired by – it does not give free or easy opportunities. New York, as cliché as it all sounds, is its own sort of living, breathing beast – its favorite game a constant, pulling tug-of-war. I realized that I had to fight back.

And fight back, I did. Armed with a bold new matte lipstick and a fierce vintage sheer white skirt, I ventured out into the city and decided to fight back with all the scrappy energy that I could muster.

I started in a café, where I sipped at a cappuccino and ate an almond croissant where I finally got to working on some freelance articles that I had been too mopey to write recently. I wandered along the streets confidently, popping in and out of the many shops at my leisure, picking up new armour for my recently invoked war (ok, so I got a thrifted pair of high-waisted jeans. Same thing). I found solace in a beautifully dilapidated hole-in-the-wall Caribbean joint. I found a hipster theatre and saw a hipster film that I’ve been wanting to see. And when I got home, I baked some scones using a recipe that I have had bookmarked for quite some time.

I lay in bed that night, eyes closed, feeling like Dorothy again, on a path, on a journey. Except this time, when I tapped my ruby red slippers together and I opened my eyes to my small, cold apartment, it didn’t feel so disappointing this time.

I didn’t feel too far away from home.

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