Around that time, my mother dressed me in my finest dress and my little string of pearls and took me to see the Sound of Music at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. From then on, I was obsessed with musical theater and, subsequently, Broadway and New York City. I would print out pictures of the City from the internet and make collages to decorate my room with. I would watch the Today Show with my mother, just so I could get a glimpse of the skyline. I would beg my parents to take me into Manhattan every time we visited my uncles who lived in New Jersey and Connecticut. I rarely got my way, but when I did I was enthralled with the City. I knew I was going to live in New York City one day.
Before I realized I had no natural acting or singing talent, I wanted to be an actress. I saw Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with my grandfather back when I was in high school.
“Maybe you’ll be coming out one of those stage doors one day,” he said as we witnessed an actor emerging from the theater to sign autographs.
“Oh, I will,” I replied cockily.
I moved to the city of my dreams three years ago. My plan was to only be gone for one year, then to go back to North Carolina and start a “normal” life. But shortly after moving to my apartment in Alphabet City, I knew I would not be going back after just one year.
I was madly in love with the City.
For a while I thought I would stay forever. I began to think I would get married and have a bunch of kids who would be stacked up on bunk beds in my tiny Manhattan apartment. Kids that I would take to the park and to the public library and to Broadway. This idea excited me for a while.
After I began working at my current office job, I realized that this dream of mine was only a false dream. In reality, in order to live in New York City, I would have to work 12-hour days for the rest of my life just to get by paying rent and buying groceries. And I don’t even want a husband or kids right now. What was I thinking? I want freedom from a cubicle, and the adventure of a lifetime. And, the truth is, I’m tired of the city. The trade off for all the hard, mind-numbing work I have to do isn’t really equal.
There are things that I will miss so much that it makes me hurt though.
I will miss being able to go to theater anytime I could want. I will miss the friends that I’ve made and who have become a part of my life. I will miss waking up on weekend days and realizing that I can do anything I want–I can go the theater, or the zoo, or the gardens; I can lay in the park with friends and have a picnic; I can go to an art or history museum (or even a museum on on an aircraft carrier); I can go out to brunch with my roommate to the Australian or Japanese or Thai or Italian or Greek or Southern restaurant in my neighborhood; or I can just go on a run through my neighborhood park where I can take a break to sit on a bench and look at the magnificent skyline of my city.
I know once I leave for this RTW trip, there is a good chance I will not be coming back to New York. Maybe I will settle eventually in a (cheaper) Southern city somewhere, but New York City–the one that 5-year-old me dreamed about–won’t be an option unless somehow I strike it rich. I figure that the decision will be made for me while I’m gone, so I won’t have to make it myself. I may miss New York so much that I can’t bear the thought of not living here. Or I may feel a sense of relief to be out of the madness.
Either way, I will always love New York, but maybe now just as a visitor and not as a resident.