Recently discovered another blog full of city stories called Tracy’s New York Life, the observations of a new arrival who had wanted to move here for 28 years. Hi Tracy! Glad you made it, and welcome to our fair city. I’m glad you’re taking time to enjoy the weird little moments. That’s what I’m here for, right people?
Earlier this week, I was heading back home from 14th and Eighth Avenue on the 1 train. I am always surprised at the subway crowd during mid-day rather than rush hour. The riders are more diverse, and I usually spot someone or something to inspire me.
Somewhere in midtown, either at 34th Street or 42nd Street, a young, bright-eyed gentleman got on the train with a huge suitcase. He struggled with his oversized bag, but he managed and sat next to me. He was obviously coming to New York for an extended stay, perhaps moving indefinitely, at least it appeared that way based on the size of his luggage. Probably in his twenties, he had blond hair and glasses. It was a humid day in Manhattan. Not the best weather for jeans and a long-sleeved plaid shirt.
This boy seemed like a fish out of water, but yet he belonged at the same time. Was this his first visit? I wanted to talk to him—-ask if he needed directions. I know how confusing the trains in New York can be when you don’t know how to use them. Then I glanced down and saw a piece of 8.5 X 11 looseleaf paper in his hand. He was staring at it, and soon so was I. It read, “Elton’s apartment—-502 West 122nd Street between Amsterdam and Broadway,” and a phone number. He had a destination, and luckily he was riding the correct train.
My imagination immediately took over. He was in Manhattan to stay in someone’s tiny walk-up apartment to make a go of it. Maybe he was a musician and going for classes at the Manhattan School of Music. Or perhaps he was planning to attend Columbia? Whatever the reason, it really didn’t matter at that point. It brought back memories for me. Remembering when I packed a suitcase about the same size to start my life in New York in 1985, I returned home the next day completely devastated due to the filthy apartment where I couldn’t stay. My dream had fallen apart. I was hoping that his outcome would be better than mine.
The blond-haired boy heading to Elton’s apartment is no different than I am, or anyone else who makes the move to New York City. We are all looking for that something that will not only fulfill us, but define us, and create the life we dream about.