Blogs » Digital Babble » New York state of mind


Taken in July 2005

Ever since I was a little kid tearing apart calculators and radios to see what was inside, or writing the next Great American Novel in my Big Chief notepad, I always dreamed of being someone important. Instead of dreaming about ponies and Barbie collections, my dreams revolved around making guest appearances on Sesame Street. Remember I was five-years-old when I was dreaming this up. My dreams also included looking down from my highrise, watching as fans waiting to catch a glimpse of me lined up outside of my own company. What kind of company I owned I have no idea, it could have been any company really, I wasn't picky back then. I had high hopes for someone who had just learned how to tie the laces on her Buster Browns.

And all of these dreams were to materialize in a place far, far away from Texas. A place that was glamorous, a place that was metropolitan, where people wore suits and drove in taxis. The place I dreamed of was New York City.

I grew up and those dreams were soon replaced with others. I traded in my Big Chief notepad for a laptop and the fantasy of Sesame Street replaced by one featuring Saturday Night Live and the Rolling Stone. Instead of being in front of the camera, living it up with Big Bird and Maria, I imagined myself working behind the scenes as a writer, rubbing elbows with Lorne Michaels and U2.

In the past few years I’ve had the chance to visit NYC several times. Each visit to the city is accompanied with joy and excitement, as well as fear. Fear of being rejected in the city I dreamed about for so long. My visits were for leisure only, but it was a test for me. As I walked down the streets of the city, people rushing by me on the sidewalk, walking very fast by the way, I would imagine I was one of them, minus the walking fast part because I had forgotten my inhaler at home. I pretended to be someone important, like in my childhood dreams, someone who was in a rush to meet an editor or publisher in one of the tall shiny buildings in Midtown Manhattan. Glancing through the revolving doors of the building, past the lobby filled with more people walking really fast, I could imagine myself walking through that lobby on the way to my own office.

Then the fear hit me faster than you can say Anna Wintour. I could feel the despair in the pit of my stomach. What if I couldn’t make it here? I mean this is the city where as the saying goes, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere,” so what if I couldn’t make it in New York? Would they ship me back to Texas, a stamp on my forehead saying “Return to Sender,” only to be sent all over the country like a lost package?

My last trip to New York City was a whimsical one. I walked through Central Park, enjoying the scenery while breathing in the hot, heavy summer air. I was envious of the locals walking their pets (walking fast again mind you), or lounging around on the grass, not a worry in the world. They were New Yorkers and I wanted to be one too. Even the homeless people setting up for a night in the park seemed to be content. I had always thought of the homeless as wayward drifters, thus making them slow-footed. But no, there they were, walking fast and living in the city. Then I realized something shocking. It had come to this: I was jealous of the homeless.

It was at that moment that I realized I had failed my test badly. I was hot, tired, out of breath and had a collection of blisters that had formed on my feet. My walking speed was downgraded to an erratic shuffle. All of this the result of one day in the city. Just one day. How was I supposed to make it in this city if I couldn’t even handle one day of sightseeing?
So I came back to Texas, dejected and saddened by my failure. I was happy to be back in Texas. At least people walk at a normal pace here, for the most part at least, I haven’t really timed them.

I have not cast aside my dreams just yet. The next time I go back to New York City, I will be better prepared, both mentally and physically. Watch out homeless people, I’ve got my walking shoes on now.