I have been dreaming about New York since I was a young girl growing up in a small town.
In my seventh grade yearbook I proudly declared that in twenty years I'd be living there. The weight of all that was never lost on me - I put off going for years, fearing that it couldn't possibly live up to my wild expectations. By the time my friend Sarah moved there I had ran out of excuses, although I very nearly cancelled the flight two days before the trip. Luckily I came to my senses.
The day arrived, and serendipity quickly took me by the hand. My train to the airport came just as I got to the platform. After landing in Toronto, I walked in a daze through the airport until it dawned on me that I didn’t know the gate number of my connecting flight to New York. I looked up at that moment to find I was standing right in front of it. As the plane en route to NYC lifted off the ground (to the tune of Empire State of Mind, on repeat) it carried every sensation of my body with it. I was positively giddy. The smile planted firmly on my face remained there for the entire flight. I’m sure the guy next to me thought I was insane. As I made my way to Grand Central Station, shit-eating grin still firmly intact, I thought to myself that I could imagine living here only to look out the window at a billboard that read “Made for New York” [que jaw drop]. Inside Grand Central Station, the world was spinning around me as I looked up to discover an entire galaxy where the ceiling ought to be. In that moment I felt like I could go anywhere, do anything.
The next day, Sarah and I arrived in Times Square at 11:59 AM and stared up at the clock. Just then, I started a ten-second countdown out loud ... the clock switched to 12:00 at the second I predicted it would. With wide eyes, we looked at each other and started to laugh. This world was ours. From there we stepped into a city filled wondrously with my desires: historic streets lined with exquisite buildings housing shops of the finest character and quality; hidden bookstores arranged perfectly amidst french decor and the scent of freshly cut flowers; bakeries on every corner, each boasting the best cookies in the city and a cozy corner spot waiting patiently in the sun. Every coffee shop unique, every restaurant sensational, every lounge from another place in time. There was nowhere in the world I felt I needed to be but here.
Later that day, our meanderings lead us to Brooklyn Vintiques, a funky shop carrying a variety of nostalgic treasures. Amongst these treasures, we discovered a tin filled with old maps from various places around the world. A tingle ran down my spine as I drew one from the middle. I knew before I’d even looked down which map I would find: France. I gushed with excitement, which caught the owner’s attention and led him to share a beautiful story of his time living in Paris in 1972. Although it was more than forty years ago he recited his memories in incredible detail, describing his experience as one of “stepping into an impressionist painting”. I had stars in my eyes as Sarah explained that France had been calling me for quite some time. He turned to me, and with firm conviction, said: answer.
In New York City my most elusive and elaborate desires floated generously at the surface of my experience. While meandering, I imagined shopping my heart out on Bleecker street, dining in style at the Plaza, drinking champagne at book signings in Greenwich Village and wandering aimlessly down the streets of Chelsea. I saw myself in every bustling hotspot in the East and West Village and making myself at home in a chic Tribeca loft. I dreamed of endlessly exploring streets that seemed to continuously reinvent themselves with newness and potential.
I could have stayed forever, experiencing life in just this way.