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An Ode to New York City

A few weeks ago, the Internet went down in my building. ­ Like any self-confessed millennial, my first reaction was to throw a temper tantrum. There was a couple of unspeakable gestures towards my screen, a pillow may have been forcefully tossed across the room, and, inevitably, I began to cryptically guess the network passwords of surrounding bars and restaurants whilst kicking myself for not getting friendlier with my neighbours sooner. With a free night in my schedule that I’d pre-emptively dedicated to a Shondaland marathon topped off with some serious Netflix and chilling, I was hit with a sudden wave of genius. My external hard drive. The one I’d bought to clear my laptop’s memory by relocating all those 100% legally purchased movies for a rainy day. Well that day was finally here.

However, as the days passed and the wifi diagnostics ran over and over, I turned to a dark corner of my hard drive that I’m not especially proud of. A guilty pleasure if you will. And so ensued my re-watching of the entire Sex and the City series. Start to finish. Big, to Aidan, to Burger, to the Russian. And like most self-identified ‘Carrie’s’, the urge to run away to New York and fulfill my romanticised ideal of becoming a writer crashed into me. Exactly the way it did all those years ago when I’d stayed up later than I should have to sneak in episodes of a show that was way too old for me and decided that was it. I was going to be a writer, I was going to live in New York, and I was going to do it Fabulously.

satc

Now, the word impulsive is something that’s often thrown around when it comes to my personality. I’m not one for organisation and I’m certainly not one when it comes to thinking things through. So, with my new found freelance lifestyle here in Amsterdam, I was able to turn my schedule remote for a week and before I knew it, I was on my way to the Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. I was off to explore the Concrete Jungle, and 1989 was my ever-so-fitting soundtrack.

grand centralAnd what an adventure it was. From scoring myself an internship, to brushing shoulders with Justin Timberlake, with a few improv comedy shows and countless ‘table for one’s’ along the way; New York truly blew my mind, opened my eyes, and injected me with some serious creative energy. But like all adventures in a new country, I began to notice the quirks and customs that define New York City. Alongside the social norms it’s inhabitants abide by which, for a little old Brit like me, certainly took some getting used to.

  • The first time I went to cross the street in the US quickly and unexpectedly became a mild fluster of panic when I realised there is no green man. And unlike Amsterdam, where the crossing gives you a countdown to green, these descending numbers were telling me how long I had left to cross the street. Leaving me standing on the pavement like a dummy whilst my fellow pedestrians just strolled on by.

times square

  • The toilets are tiny. Like, thought-I’d-accidentally-walked-into-a-child’s-bathroom tiny. And the flush is dramatic as hell.
  • After spending a good half hour seeking out a cash point along on Wall Street, I came to accept that for a financial district, there is a significant shortage of ATMs.
  • The power sockets look like tiny shocked faces and it’s wonderful.
  • New York is powered by coffee.
  • Drinking said coffee on the Subway is a fine art and one that I most certainly did not master.
  • People travelling the subway are either reading a newspaper, listening to a podcast, or their eyes are closed. The only folk who dare to make conversation are the preachers that jump on board to ask for a spare dollar or, in one entertaining case, a fist-bump from each person along the whole train.
  • I have this theory that there are day time cities and night time cities. That the mood shifts when the sun goes down and it’s either for the better or the worse. Despite being the City That Never Sleeps – see coffee consumption – New York is definitely a day time city.
  • There is no ground floor, elevators begin at 1, a notion I established whilst desperately trying to escape the labyrinth of Saks.
  • Literally anything goes. There’s something for everyone. Contrary to popular belief, I believe if you CAN’T make it anywhere, you can definitely make it in New York.

world trade center

And there we have it, an ode to the captivating city that whisked me away for an incredible week. I may have experienced some serious neck strain from gazing up at all those sky scrapers, and encountered one or two more rats (and a token skunk!) that I’d have liked to – but New York, you stole my heart. So, here’s to the city that’s so nice, Frank Sinatra named it twice.

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