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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Opinion

First adventures in New York

Amanda White

Published February 7th, 2013

This semester I am on the adventure of my life. I moved to New York City with an exchange program called National Student Exchange. On Jan. 25, I boarded a plane with two bags and took off for the city of my dreams. I have wanted to live in New York City since “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” and the Disney version of “Annie,” so this whole process is very surreal.

I am attending classes at Queens College, located in Flushing, N.Y. in the borough of Queens, which is a 30-minute train and bus ride from midtown Manhattan. However, I have only successfully traveled to Manhattan within the 30-minute time period once; all other times I have either taken the wrong bus, or gotten off on the wrong stop or took the really slow train.

As silly and cliché as it sounds, Manhattan is magical. It’s bright and big; everything seems larger than life and I really feel like I’m walking down a movie set because everything is as glamorous as it appears on screen. The first time I saw Central Park was from my window seat on the plane and I cried from the sheer enormity of it. The first time I saw Times Square was at night and I was so overwhelmed my roommate and I just ran down the sidewalk, laughing breathlessly.

The first time I emerged from the subway in Manhattan was on a Saturday night. I was meeting my roommate, her sister and a friend at their midtown hotel bar for drinks, and then it was onward to dinner. I crept up the stairs to the sidewalk from the smelly platform, unsure of where I was, as I was following the directions given to me by an iPhone app.

To my left was the Broadway version of “Cinderella” and to my right was the “Late Show with David Letterman.” The light from Times Square, which was about two streets over from my location, was spilling down the street from around the skyscrapers. I was so exhilarated even though I had just spent two hours stumbling my way through public transportation with frozen toes and a dying phone.

The next few hours were a rush. We flitted from the hotel bar to a pub for dinner, stopping for roasted nuts from a street vendor and a photo op by some marquees advertising the Broadway musicals I had admired from afar. From the pub, we took a taxi to a cabaret show, only to be turned away because it was sold out. No matter; we hit the next location on our list: the Duplex.

Now, the Duplex holds a special place in my heart. It is on Christopher Street in the heart of Greenwich Village, and is one of the numerous gay bars surrounding the iconic Stonewall Inn. However, I did not know this was a gay bar. I thought it was simply a piano bar with a really fantastic staff that could sing any song from the American Songbook or top 40 pop charts. Also, it was the Duplex where I lost my iPhone. Actually, I technically lost my iPhone in the taxi that drove us to the Duplex.

I was horrified. My first night “out” in New York City and I lost my most prized possession in a taxi. Which I was sure I would never see again. So I decided to embrace the night and commiserate with some guys standing behind the bar.

Now, anyone who really knows me knows how badly I want a gay best friend. I want someone who likes shopping, Broadway musicals and alcohol that isn’t beer.

Well, I found him. Maybe he’s a decade (or two) older than I thought he would be, but I know it was fate. Our meeting was meant to be.

I lamented about my lost iPhone and he convinced me I would find it (which I did and is entirely another story). I discovered he played the piano and was a singer/songwriter and he knows every Broadway musical I could think of. I think we talked for hours, but without an iPhone one is never sure.

At one point I pulled out my notebook to scribble down some things he was telling me about show business and he casually remarked that he carried around a notebook too for ideas and thoughts, and that if he didn’t have the notebook he went crazy. I thanked him for not calling it a journal, because it most definitely is not a journal, but a notebook, and he asked me if I was a Libra.

What? That was the most random thing he could have asked, but I went with it. Yes, I told him, Sept. 25. But sometimes I feel more like a Virgo. He gasped and said that he was Sept. 25, too. I didn’t believe him, thinking he was just trying to be nice, so I demanded to see his license. We switched IDs, and sure enough, we had matching birthdays (although his was ‘70s vintage). Kismet, we declared. Fate, we crowed.

Soon enough it was time to go home, back to my apartment with almost no possessions and no food. I was also missing a really expensive phone. I felt like I had come home. I spent the better part of the night conversing with a human who understood me, who understood my need to be here, my need to maybe struggle for a while before I start succeeding. All of my problems seemed far away. In the morning they would come back to me, but at that moment, I was just a fabulous Libra in the most fabulous city in the world.

Amanda White is a junior majoring in journalism. She appreciates good books, good style, and good conversation.

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