In the two years I’ve lived in New York City, I’ve never been to Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, or Carnegie Hall. I never see A-Listers in Soho or stumble onto episodes of Gossip Girl being filmed on the Upper East Side. I haven’t given my regards to Broadway.
I have lived with unexpected nudists and drug dealing neighbours evading Child Services. I’ve contracted a virus from the subway that required an extremely painful emergency room visit and – worst of all – sat through some truly terrible off-Broadway plays.
From bouts of bedbugs to being so broke I’ve had to pay for pizza with pennies, New York kicks my arse again and again and again. It’s a city that defies all logic: no one really knows how we actually all live here, accepting sacrifices the rest of the world would see as insane. But I still think it’s the best city in the world. Why? Like an overbearing guidance counsellor, New York forces to you work out who you are and what you want. You don’t have a choice. Here, everyone is chasing a dream, and fast. Keep up, or get left behind.
But if you do choose to throw your hat in the ring and meet the challenge of the city head-on, things start happening. Amazing things.
Here I signed up for a few improv classes and somehow ended up on an award-winning improv team. I met a commissioning editor for HarperCollins in my backyard who I’m now developing a Young Adult series with. I’ve been sledding in Central Park, embraced then kicked a serious bagel habit, started a Book Club, dated a cellist, was accepted on a month-long writers residency at fancy Martha’s Vineyard, got a grant and spent it all on dresses. My roommate was in a cinema class with James Franco. Baz Luhrmann came to a BBQ at my place.
When these good moments come, they’re more than just exciting. They’re rewards. Yes, a midnight cocktail with views of a twinkling Chrysler is magical. But what’s most magical is you really know you’ve earnt it.
And that’s why, when being whizzed home over the Williamsburg Bridge at 3am, another madcap NY night still dancing round my head, I’ll look back to the famous skyline and sigh like a lovestruck teenager. New York, New York. It really is a helluva town.