If you’ve been following me online for a while (or even at all I suppose) then you’d be very well aware about my deep, life-long passion – borderline obsession – with New York City; I have forever been transfixed by the beauty and awe of the city lights, even from a distance here in the UK, and it wasn’t until exactly a year ago today that I got to experience that passion in person for the first time.
In fact, exactly a year ago to the moment this post was published, I stepped onto the TKTS red steps in New York City for the first time and took the selfie that you can see in the middle of the picture above.
The picture in question has become iconic to me and there is something in my heart and soul that doesn’t want to change it from being my Facebook profile picture until I have another New York picture to replace it with on my next trip. In that moment – as you can see on my ‘trying-to-hold-it-in’ face – I have never felt as truly happy and as full as I did then: full of joy, full of relief and full of comfort. In fact, moments after taking that picture, I sat on the steps for about 40 minutes and cried to myself because I was so happy with what had happened. As silly as it may sound, the work and inspiration that this city creates on a regular basis fuels my passions and joy like nothing else and finally being able to take it in first hand after waiting for as long as I can remember really touched me.
I first fell in love with the City when I was about 7 years old and I started to work the internet for myself. I’d always had a passion for the theatre and this new website called YouTube in 2006 gave me the resources to discover that further. On YouTube, I listened to songs and television show appearances from casts of London and Broadway shows before I discovered my first ever bootleg. One lazy afternoon, I found a bootleg from the original Broadway run of Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York and I fell in love – I’d never actually seen a show on stage before you see and this was something like a whole new experience for me. It was shaky, the quality was poor and the sound was atrocious, but I was fascinated not just by the magic that happened on stage with this show I loved, but by the video clips of the streets of New York and the signage at the Neil Simon that came before the video. I suppose it was a sort of early vlog.
From there, I became fascinated by this magical city that could produce such fantastic work and every video I watched I fell in love with it more and more. Funnily, I saw the show for myself in the West End a year later and it became the first stage show I ever saw outside of my small local theatre, so I suppose I have Hairspray to thank for my addiction to live theatre – Hairspray was my gateway drug! Either way, I spent years and years obsessing over this city, so when I got to visit for myself 9 years later, it was the most surreal experience of my life and a feeling I don’t think I will ever get to feel again. I was finally in this magical and mythical place and to this day, the entire trip feels like a complete figment of my imagination.
So I sit here, one year on from my trip, still wishing I was back there once again. In fact, literally every day passes and I wish I was still back there, but patience is essential and these kinds of magical things are well worth the wait. I have plans in the pipeline for my next short visit, but I know in my heart and gut that there is no way we’ll be going another nine years before I take up permanent residency over there. No matter what the cliches might make you think, New York really has stolen my heart for the better and if I had to wait nine years for those dreams to come true, then I can certainly wait just a little while more for them to happen again.