“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”-Tom Wolfe, Author and Essayist
One Year Ago today, I undertook a solo adventure with a bumpy start. I originally meant to land in New York on the 15th, but weather forced my flight to nearby Albany. My fellow passengers expressed frustration and anger, while I made sure to have a breakdown in the hotel room provided by the airline. (The Desmond Hotel whose staff I still warmly remember.) I remember feeling alone and lonely. I honestly say I felt homesick. I had nobody around to strategize, only me and my own wits. My wits basically said this airline will get me to New York on their dime. I enjoyed the upstate countryside, passing by the outskirts of such places as Sleepy Hollow (No sign of Ichabod Crane), Tarrytown (Sleepy bedroom community providing a hotbed of fiction ideas for decades), and Yonkers (Setting for the Battle in World War Z, the book). The cost of this journey to the airline? 500 US. The conversion to Canadian made my brain hurt even now.
Despite the hiccup, I arrived at the Pod 39, unpacked my stuff and marvelled at my view:
Looking around the full pod, a room that included a bathroom with a shower across my bed, I had the small apartment experience newcomers to New York get. I put away my stuff and began heading out to the streets. Step one: Get a MetroCard. After going around in circles at Grand Central Stations, five minutes from my hotel, I decided to find a tall building and go up.
Why not the Empire State building? The room at the Desmond put me alone with my loneliness, that knowledge, yes, I am single, the Empire State Building will smother me with it. It’s the last scene from Sleepless in Seattle, inspired by a similar scene in An Affair to Remember. Both (spoiler) had happy endings. You know, the girl meets the boy, they go off together, and everyone feels all warm, fuzzy, and romantic. 30 Rockefeller Center proved more my speed, more closely resembling my life. I was Tina Fey with more than her fair share of Alec Baldwins. 30 Rock, home to NBC News and Saturday Night Live. My love life resembled a Chevy Chase pratfall. 30 Rock had a view to meet the skyline right in its bright eye.
If I close my eyes, I can remember the moist wind blowing into my bones. (No wonder I got sick.) Most of all, I remember getting to the upper deck, the very top with no glass, looking out towards buildings lit so bright it blot out the night sky. I remember the nearness of a plane heading to or from LaGuardia, I can make out the grey underbelly at 8:30 pm thanks to the buildings light.
Most of all, I can tell you exactly what I felt in that picture next to this paragraph. I’m really here, I thought. No alien invasions a la The Avengers, no meet-cutes from every rom-com set in the city, no editing, no director yelling cut, only New York stretching her out her arms and saying “Well if you toughed out your first day you can tough it out here.” I positioned myself and extended my arm for the selfie. Sometimes if things feel crazy or if I feel down, this picture helps me pick myself back up. On that day I made it there, and a year on, I feel like I can make it anywhere.
For the next two weeks, I will revisit the trip in honour of the one-year anniversary. Forgive me if I am homesick for a city, not my natural home.