You know that moment as a kid when you build something up in your head so much that when the real thing comes along you can’t help but be disappointed? Kind of like the Grand Canyon, those giant dinosaurs out in California, or the dad you never knew? Well, New York City is nothing like that.
You can dream about the city your entire life and never be able to imagine how insane it is until you actually get here. Ever since I saw Carrie Bradshaw get splashed by that bus when I was nine, I’ve longed for the big city. I made my first appearance with my high school choir after saving my tips from Steak ‘n Shake in an empty mason jar for months.
Let’s just say I thought I had hit it big time.
Our snubby tour guide with an overly intensive clipboard and a sticky voice corralled us across the streets of Broadway.
Stay to the right children! Get back! AGAINST THE WALL!
By the end of the weekend we had seven different diminutive names for her and a loathing cloaked only by the fact that we were in the greatest city in the world.
Bottom line, that trip showed me nothing about the city. Sure, I saw 5th Ave., went to the Top of the Rock and explored Times Square (which is now affectionately referred to as the war zone,) but that was the tourist part. It’s the illuminated mask over the secret crawlspaces and back alleys that give New York the character I’ve come to love.
Once I found out I’d be coming back to the city for a whole summer for my internship, I wasn’t sure how to feel. I was ecstatic but terrified. I felt magnificent yet inadequate.
I won’t pretend like I know everything after three weeks. I do know more about the city than your average tourist, but I can’t tell you what’s the best hole-in-the wall eatery or where the best cozy café is. Alright, that’s a lie. The Grey Dog off of 12th street is fabulous, but I only know that because I’m a cheesy writer who likes to go drink coffee and write in public because that’s what real writers do. Are you even a writer unless other people see you do it?
I do, however, know a lot more than I thought I would, and I’ve experienced more here than I ever thought I would. The strange, the surreal and the naked, here’s a quick look at what my first three weeks in my dream city have brought me.
- I’ve gotten on the downtown subway when I needed the uptown. Somewhere around Roosevelt’s Island I figured something wasn’t right.
- I’ve experienced my first Pret a Manger. I’ve never heard of them in my life, but they’re everywhere, and they’re so f*@%ing proud of themselves aren’t they?
- Make that Duane Reade too.
- I got my photo taken by a stranger next to a giant dinosaur thing on the street. Hey, why not?
- I’ve officially learned to hate Times Square. I’ve mastered the bob-and-weave like a petite white girl version of Frogger.
- I’ve experienced Barney’s. Surprisingly, they did not kick me out for taking pictures of everything with a red sole.
- I’ve been asked for money probably more than I’ve been normally talked to. And somehow I ended up with a copy of The Wonders of Yoga from a traveling monk at the Fulton Street station.
- I attempted not to follow Zachary Quinto down the street when I saw him walking his dog with his boyfriend. I hope the police know Bloody Face is on the loose again.
- I sat and watched a street band in Washington Square Park for two hours.
- I went to a free music festival in Madison Square Park, and proceeded to promptly leave due to the heat and drunken oddities that I was not legally allowed to indulge in.
- I found a nearby place that lets me enjoy said oddities without asking if it’s legal.
- I went to a private Tony Awards party in the basement of the Hard Rock in Times Square.
- I proceeded to forget the Tony party, but photographic evidence suggests I danced with Alan Cumming and had his fedora for an extended period of time.
- Took my first ever drunken subway ride to Brooklyn at two in the morning, after having lost Alan Cumming’s fedora.
- I high-fived Jimmy Fallon and refrained from crying tears of ecstasy. This was actually my biggest accomplishment that week.
- I saw a parade of naked men riding their bikes down Avenue of the Americas. If I never see another flaccid penis again in my life, I won’t complain.
- I waited in like at the TK TS to get discount tickets for Phantom of the Opera. I proceeded to cry in the balcony during the performance, and then stand in a back alley for 20 minutes to get a picture with Sierra Boggess.
- For the love of God, it’s Houseton, not Houston.
That’s more in 21 days in New York than 19 years in Indiana, and I wouldn’t change a bit of it. Flaccidness and all.
*Side note: I have since learned that Broadway actress Jessica Pariseau ended up with the fedora, but not before posting this gem to her Instagram account.
It was a proud moment, and I love this city.