“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” Tom Wolfe
This is exactly how I felt when I saw the city of dreams through a thick fog of pollution and wandering souls through the plane window. After staring down at hills and tiny vein-like roads, I finally spotted the skyline I’d been wanting to see forever. We landed at the Newark Liberty International Airport after being awake since 3 a.m. and claimed our baggage. Next would be an experience I will never forget. Sitting in the passenger seat of our colleague’s car, I was mesmerized by every aspect of New York City. As soon as we emerged from the Turnpike, we we’re immediately thrown into the belly of the beast. Taxi cabs, jaywalkers and city lights – everything was strange and perfect at the same time.
After checking into our hotel, what I remember now is the smell. A mix of filth and a deep sultry musk. Gasoline, garbage, hot dogs and sweat – romantic. We stumbled into Times Square and I was suddenly transported to an entirely different world. Where I stood before, just off 42nd and 7th, the streets we’re still with few people and vehicles. Now, as I look up into a white sky filled with billboards of models and flashy screens with cars and late-night talk show hosts, I feel a bit like Dorothy, having walked out of a black and white movie into the land of Oz. There are people in herds everywhere stuck behind screens, capturing this new planet they’ve landed on. I will admit, I am guilty of Instagraming and capturing the wonders of the city, but was sure to observe and take everything in through my own two eyes as well.
Breakfast was hot and cheap and came out of a busy fast-food restaurant. Off to work we went until the city was all ours yet again that night. We walked so much during this trip that there were nights I could no longer stand and was forced to sit on the ground and bite my tongue to fight the pain. It was worth every blister. The night I will treasure the most is visiting the Empire State building. We walked down streets while looking up for the lit-up peek of the Empire until we finally made it. Up 80 floors in a heartbeat, we trekked up the last six floors by foot. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I longed for a glass of cold water until I saw it – the city in all its brilliants. Lights for miles and miles, I swear my heart stopped for a moment. I will never forget when New York City and I fell in love – somewhere before midnight on March 10.
With heavy eyes and a lump in my throat I watched the city grow smaller and smaller through the plane window then drifted off thinking about the next time I will be back. The trip home was very long and tiring. I was between airports for over nine hours and was in need of a warm bed and sustenance that didn’t come from a fast-food kitchen. What I learned about New York is that there isn’t one type of person that lives there or one type of person that visits, but we are all the same people that leave there – dazed and a little bit brighter, longing for more of the mystery and seductiveness of the city.