New York, I Love You

January 17, 2010
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I am freezing cold. I really have no idea what I am doing in Times Square. In New York. On New Year’s Eve. Alone. It is raining, just a little, but definitely enough to make me think twice about emerging from my dingy hotel room on 8th Avenue, and into the cold outdoors. But there is a reason I am here, even if I don’t completely know the reason myself.

I have always been someone who relied on good judgment, not the kind of person who went out on a limb. And I think that is the exact reason I chose to come to New York City for a couple of months, to try and “find myself,” so to speak. All of my twenty-one years of living I have been the shy, quiet girl with the boring life planned all out ahead of her. High school, university, then some dull job behind a desk. I craved the adventure.

So I dropped out of my second year at the University of British Columbia. Believe me when I say my parents were not too pleased at this, in fact I can still hear the exasperated voice of my mother on the telephone when I told her of my plan.

“You are ruining your life and throwing away what’s left of your future!” she screamed as I winced on the other line.

But here I am, less than one month later. I know that I made the right choice, even if I still cannot figure out the subway system, and somehow a homeless person already managed to pickpocket my driver’s license. Not like I would even attempt to drive in the streets here anyway. Yellow cabs line the crowded roads for miles, pointlessly honking at one another, as if this will make the traffic disappear.

I absolutely love it here. The melting pot of cultures, the beautiful architecture, the fact that a person can order all-you-can-eat Chinese food at three o’clock in the morning; it all belongs to a completely different world. Every single person in this huge city of 8.3 million has his or her own story. Whether it is a story of love, loss, success, or downfall, everyone plays a vital role in this narrative of life. New York is filled with a sense of hope.

I want to be a writer. I was originally studying Journalism at UBC. Everything about New York City beckons me to write. I have started a series of short stories about life in this majestic city. My hope is to publish this collection. Writing here is what keeps me occupied. I have very little money, and haven’t made a single friend. One thing I have noticed about New York, is that people are not always hospitable.

I am down to my last hundred dollars, and feeling a little discouraged. But tonight, optimism of the approaching new year shreds through the sky.

It is packed in Times Square. The vibrant advertising lights flash dizzily about my head, and all around me people dressed in scarves and coats whisper in excitement to their friends. I would guess that about ninety-five percent of the population in New York is here right now. We are all waiting for the exact same event.

The countdown starts.

“Ten, nine, eight, seven…” my stomach flutters impatiently for a new beginning as I count down with the crowd, “…four, three, two, one! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

The ball drops, people cheer. The sound almost deafens me, but I cannot wipe the enormous grin off my face. The exhilaration is contagious. A complete stranger beside me hugs me out of nowhere. I really hope it wasn’t the same guy who stole my driver’s license. I don’t even notice the rain, which has significantly worsened. Life is grand.

A new year. In New York. It is ironically fitting. My thoughts of financial problems, conflict with my parents, and destiny are pushed aside. I have never felt so alive. Life is short, I realize, and we, as human beings, should do what we want to do, not what people tell us to do. We must live in the present, because that is what is given to us, nothing else. We must choose our paths wisely, as we only get one chance to live our lives to the fullest.

I found myself in New York City.

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