New York City is exactly like the movies and nothing like the movies. How it's exactly like the movies? Well, all the beautiful New York shots of people in the parks, passing the looming architecture, the huge and flopping cheese pizza slices, yep, that's all here. Rest easy. And it's epic in every sense of the word. I know and feel a keen sense of being ever so small in a grand place, trying to make some ripple. Everywhere I go I think I've spotted Carrie Bradshaw's exact brownstone stoop, or I know without a doubt I can happen upon scenescapes in Central Park from Home Alone. It is most definitely here.
Kirst and I snuck into the Plaza Hotel one day, I don't even know that we needed to sneak, but we felt like paupers and that the concierge would instantly be onto us and toss us back onto NY's grimey streets. We fully prepped ourselves before going in:
"Hold your head high, Kirst."
"Yeah, let's act like we own the place."
"Look like you know what you're doing. And look posh. And rich."
"Let's not make eye contact either."
And then we burst into giggles and put on our best we're rich gals staying at the Plaza faces, lips tight in snobbish lines and sashayed right through the turning door and tried to keep said snobbish lines in place but failed miserably and our jaws dropped at the grandeur as we held back squeals while picking up our pace trying to see as much as possible before we were nabbed.
We weren't nabbed though we did start to raise a suspicious eyebrow. We obviously aren't Plaza People. The place is pure class. Chandeliers that probably cost more than my home, spiral staircases, gold everywhere, probably real gold. It's no secret that New York City is a city worth oggling.
But here is how it is nothing like the movies. You know how in every romantic comedy, the 20 something girl has a hugely hip apartment above some chinese restaurant, that has brick walls, a fireplace and walk-in closets? And said girl either has one of two jobs. She does something important in PR--dream girl, dream job, dream apartment. Or she is a waitress, yet still has that apartment.
Ok, for humor's sake, I'll say the PR gal could maybe afford that apartment on her own, without a roommate, in Manhattan. But the eclectic waitress with expensive shampoo tastes? Get real. She would so be living in a small studio in Queens with two other people. If the place was charming, it would be because she was eclectic and happened to know how to decorate. Otherwise it'd look like a college kids dorm.
If you think this is raining on your parade, just you wait. I watched a lot of movies about New York before coming here, in particular, my favorite, When Harry Met Sally. I had that movie so locked down in my mind as my perfect New York experience, is it any wonder that I've had nearly two dozen meltdowns thus far, when nothing and I mean absolutely nothing about my New York experience is like When Harry Met Sally.
For starters I don't have an incredibly hilarious best friend/soon to be love of my life who wants to take me to museums and quote Casablanca with me. That is one of the smaller letdowns, but I was prepared for that reality.
What is shocking is how little New York still feels real to me. I admittedly am getting quite savvy at my directional capabilities, getting on and off the subway at the appropriate stops, picking my New York sports teams and learning never ever to be haggled again in Times Square, that was a rough lesson, $89 dollars later and a salon coupon I didn't need, but an important one nonetheless. Yet even when I am out and about doing some hip and trendy New York thing like drinking champagne at The Redhead in the East Village, with friends I still feel like I am pretending. Oh and if you're wondering how I could afford champagne when I can barely afford subway fare right now, know that you're right, I can't afford champagne and was under the delusional impression that if I picked the cheapest bottle on the menu divided by three, it would be totally doable. New York lesson number... um I've lost count. If the price seems too reasonable and the restaurant is truly awesome, question it, as when I got the bill, I nearly vomited in my mouth and pulled the waitress aside to clarify that I did pick the bottle that was half the price. She looked at me a little uncomfortably and said that was the price of the half bottle. No more champagne for this girl.
Who are you, my brain keeps demanding and what are you doing here? I know it all makes sense and change isn't a snap your fingers type thing, but I keep waiting to be walking through Central Park in my smaller, cuter clothes, with my writing sensibilities, drinking a chilled coffee beverage and say, oh yeah I've made it. This is totally like the movies! No, no it isn't. It feels nothing like that.
The problem is I don't feel like I've made it at all. Most days I am a terrified wreck, the state of my hair matching the state of my brain. A frazzley, electrifying, scary mess. Nothing feels all that real and nothing feels certain. Of course, I still need the writing job or my book deal, and yeah I definitely want my own Billy Crystal, a la Harry Burns, but those two things aside, I still feel unsure. Do people ever know what they're doing? Do they ever feel like accomplished adults with 401k's and a life they're impressed by? I don't know if I am doomed to be a restless gypsy who never really has a clue, or I am simply still pulling my ship in. Trust me, my ship isn't lost anymore, but I think she is rather large and being a bit of a toot with coming into harbor.
And maybe I am still reeling with the information from a very successful New Yorker who told me no one is Carrie Bradshaw.
"I don't know anyone who does what Carrie Bradshaw did and can afford Manolo Blahniks every week. I mean maybe she exists, but I've never met her."
Well, dang. So no Carrie Bradshaw and no Sally Albright. I am most definitely riding a very topsy-turvy sea here. Just trust me when I say this little piece of New York wisdom is entirely true though: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Now that's a fact!