Personal Essay: Living a Dream in NYC
This was the first time I got the window seat so obviously, I was peeping outside (yes, even when I could only see the clouds!) the entire time. After numerous delays and detours, the seat belt sign finally blinked. With my nose pressed against the window, I kept looking out for the slightest view of the land, however there was nothing in sight but black clouds. Then suddenly, in the most magical way possible, the clouds rose above us leaving behind a beautiful view of the city in all its glory. As we got closer to the bright lights, a tear rolled down my cheek; I was living my dream, I was finally in New York City!
If you would have said to me this time last year that I’d be leaving India to study in the United States, making lifelong friends in Texas, and travelling to New York City, I would have laughed in your face. But that’s the thing about dreams, they come true.
“I hopped off the plane at JFK
With a dream and my cardigan….”
I took a cab from JFK to Long Island City and because the Gods were being so kind to me, with impeccable timing, Justin Bieber's Mistletoe started playing on the radio (Did I mention I was in New York City during the ‘most wonderful time of the year’?), just as we turned into a lane which had the most amazing view of **drumroll, please** The Empire State Building!!
“One belongs to New York instantly,
one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
And I did, I felt like I belonged to it. You know that romanticised version of New York that all the movies sell? It’s even better than that. That night I fell asleep looking out at a beautiful view of the skyline of the city that never sleeps.
“I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.”
Have you even been to NYC if you didn’t take the Subway? As we waited at the station, I had the pleasure of witnessing a guy breaking into a random dance routine which frankly, just made my day. Travelling on the subway was on my bucket list so I obviously loved it, but seriously, New Delhi Metro is way fancier. I still love you New York, I’d just rather take an uber.
“One can't paint New York as it is,
but rather as it is felt.”
As soon as I stepped out of the subway, I fell in love with Manhattan. There is just something about it that makes you feel that way immediately. As we walked down the streets of Manhattan, I might have pinched myself a few times to be sure that this was all real. We walked past the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, saw the Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller Centre and peeped at Times Square. Writing about it seems so weird because I still can’t believe I was actually there.
“Quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean ‘love’ in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again.”
Later that night, we drove to Connecticut where I saw snow for the first time (but was too scared to go out because my part-Indian part-Texan brain thought that touching a snowflake might be deadly) and had a perfect Christmas with my wonderful family. Before I knew it, it was already time to go back to Texas. I got to have lunch in New York City and look at the skyline for one last time right before driving to JFK. My heart broke a little as I turned my back to that beautiful view.
“New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it: once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”
I usually hate dark and gloomy days but something about New York City makes even a grey day feel like a happy one. Yes, I know you’d say that if I actually lived there, I’d hate everything that I loved so much in my two days of NYC. Paying thousands of dollars to live in a tiny studio apartment with a terrible view of Brooklyn, might not seem so exciting. But in spite of this, there is part of me that can’t stop dreaming about living in the city someday.
Until next time, New York. Until next time!