Have you ever noticed how many delusional people exist to this world? I’ve always said that New York is a sort of Mecca for people with unrealistic expectations, and the kind of place where it’s okay to dream really big. In fact, you can’t not be a dreamer and survive in New York. Just think of the teeny, tiny apartments that cost thousands of dollars a month to live in, and all the inconveniences that go along with New York living; having multiple roommates so that you can cover rent, grocery stores that are miles away, five and six-story walk ups, schlepping heavy laundry for blocks in the dead of winter. Why would anyone go through all this? It’s simple. Because there is no greater place to make big things happen in your life than New York City. Period. I guarantee every person you pass on a bustling, taxi-honking street has some sort of dream or expectation about being in New York. Whether it’s to star in a Broadway show someday, become chief editor of the New York Times, hit it big in the corporate world, become a famous blogger, become a famous fashion designer, publish a best-selling novel, write a screenplay that will win you an Oscar, etc. etc…And I should know, because as you may have already guessed, a few of my biggest dreams were mixed in there. You see, this massive fool’s paradise is probably why I love New York so much to begin with, because let’s face it, I’m a little delusional, too.
You’ve heard the old adage about New York: “If I can make it there (insert robust drum beat here) I’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to you, New York, New York.”
Everyone has also heard the success stories about making it big in New York, but the one thing nobody ever seems to talk about, are the thousands of people who come here year after year who don’t make it. They’re the people who New York eats up and spits out. They’re the same people who once got goosebumps while listening to those Frank Sinatra lyrics, but can no longer bear to hear the song. They are those that slowly fade into the distance or simply “go back home” eventually.
My pondering on the subject started last night on my subway ride home from work. There was this early twenty-something-year-old girl sitting nearby on an extremely crowded, yet surprisingly quiet rush hour train. Her friend was standing in front of her and they were sharing an iPod as they listened to music. Suddenly at the top of her lungs she decided to act out an entire scene from what I presumed was Mary Poppin’s, complete with both male and female roles (including an astonishingly bad imitation of some sort of British accent.) She totally got her wish; every person in the subway car stopped what they were doing to stare. Her routine climaxed when she impersonated a crash, which highlighted her ability to do sound effects as well. Her male friend, a seemingly sweet and quiet type, stood there looking slightly embarrassed by the spectacle, but remained supportive as he said, “That was amazing.” She replied, “I know, acting out the scene in its entirety is part of the process I go through before a big audition.”
I really wish my story ended here, but unfortunately it didn’t. When she was done with the show tune extravaganza, she moved on to Nicki Minaj, so that we all could see that she was a gal of many talents, including rapping. She rapped the entire song of “Super Bass” and also sang the hook as loud and as tone-deaf as her voice could carry her. All the while, her friend stood there, ear phone in one ear, trying his best to look carefree, even though his cheeks had turned a slight shade of pink from embarrassment. She paid no attention and was thoroughly engrossed in her rap, when she suddenly stopped and stated the following: “I watch every interview I can find of Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj, and do you wanna know what all of them have in common?
Girl’s Friend: “What?”
Girl: They both say that they like to impersonate characters every day of their lives, because it makes life more interesting, and because they love standing out. Isn’t that just like me?
Girl’s Friend: Totally.
Girl: (smug) I guess that must mean I am going to be famous someday, too.
Girl’s Friend: Yup.
Just as this conversation wrapped up, it was time for me to hop off the subway. On my walk home I couldn’t help but envision all the rude awakenings that I was sure this girl was going to get, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for her, too. I guess I could see some of my younger self in her…Untainted confidence, hopefulness, and even though she was extremely annoying to me after a long day at work, I could still admire something about her. She believed in herself. Wholeheartedly. I had to give her credit for that.
Maybe not everyone makes it in New York, and maybe some people do eventually fade into the dust, but I guess everyone has to figure it out on their own. Still, I hope someday I can say that I made it…really made it…in New York.
Photos by Pinterest.