“As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world.”
Pearl S. Buck
When I didn’t fall in love with New York City like everyone told me I would, I actually thought there was something wrong with me. For me NYC grew on me once I got back to Brisbane and was looking through my countless photos. It was then I realised (and appreciated) what I had just witnessed.
I think the trick with any city you visit is to find out what it means to you. By that I mean, each person will react and feel differently about a place than you will. Each city means something different to you as opposed to what it means to your mother, boyfriends, brother, best friend, cousin or neighbour. I know people who hate London, whereas it is my most favourite city in the world.
For me wanting to visit New York City, I guess, was like everyone else. It’s one of those “must see” places. A place to visit before you die. A bucket list item to be ticked off. I had watched F.R.I.E.N.D.S and countless other TV shows and movies set in NYC. I knew exactly what to expect.
Except I didn’t. I didn’t know just how noisy it was going to be. I had no idea just how tall those skyscrapers were. I definitely didn’t know how many people there were in the city. Going to NYC certainly removed those rose-coloured glasses. The city overwhelmed me in the big way, so much so that part of me didn’t want to leave the friend’s apartment I was staying in. Not that I was scared in any way but just because I felt the city engulfing me, almost strangling the breath out of me. I basically didn’t want anything to do with the city.
It was a relief, in a way to actually leave the city for a few days and head to Washington DC and Philadelphia, both of which I loved. Coming back to NYC after those days away, the noise, craziness and suffocation of the city started again almost immediately.
I think my time in NYC was summed up on my last day. I had been over to Staten Island on the ferry, I was now visiting Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan. I came out and noticed a large number of police and firemen on the street in front of the church. There were probably about 4 fire engines and numerous more police cars. After watching with the gathering crowd for a few minutes, I turned to go into the graveyard next to the church. Not looking where I was going, I tripped and fell. Hurting my knee, breaking my camera and water bottle in the process, I quickly got up (with the help of a lovely gentleman), went and sat on a park bench in the cemetery and cried.
My time in NYC was over.
When I got back to Brisbane I was able to get a bit retrospective and looking through my photos I could actually see what an amazing city it really was and the amazing things I had done. I had seen the Statue of Liberty. I had been to the Top of the Rock for one of the best cityscape views in the world. I had seen the iconic Rockettes perform their famous Christmas Spectacular. I had witnessed the absolute craziness that was Times Square. I saw the amazing architectural masterpiece that is the Brooklyn Bridge.
Sure my first visit to NYC wasn’t picture perfect but I wouldn’t change anything about it. Each place you visit imprints part of itself onto you like an invisible tattoo. Each experience you have creates part of the story that is your life. If everything we did was perfect then we wouldn’t have much of story to tell.
Tom Wolfe said about New York City: “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years” and I think that is rather true. Despite my less than perfect introduction to NYC, it has gotten under my skin and I am definitely going back to NYC.
Some photos from my trip in November 2012:
Veteran’s Day Parade
NYC Street Life
Just a bit of traffic
Being cultured at The Met
Time Square Craziness
What a view