*Dev and I somewhere in Brooklyn.
On the morning flight, I had my new life figured out. I was going to become the next best thing New York had seen. The city would fall in love with my vibrant personality and acknowledge my talents. A revolving door of opportunity would present itself as I audition for various shows. I would be a standout because I would be myself. I can do the work; I needed the chance. Then, the plane landed.
Upon arrival, an ocean of bodies surrounded me filling any pocket of personal space. With a stuffed green, military duffle bag strapped on my back and black backpack hanging in my right hand, I headed to the taxi station.
After a several minutes wait, a driver of African descent pulled up to the curb.
“Where you going?” The driver asked with a strong West African accent.
“125th and Lenox’ I replied with confidence which hopefully conveyed to the driver that I was a native. Truthfully, I only knew three locations in NYC by memory: 125th and Lenox ave., 116th and Park, and Sadri’s, a famous restaurant where Broadway actors would attend.
A car ride that should’ve taken thirty minutes lasted for an hour. Eventually, the driver admitted that I was his first client in America. Overall, I was on 125th and Lenox and lost. The restaurant I wanted to attend was close for renovations and since it was around 11:15am other places were still closed. So, I walked.
After four blocks, I decided to catch a taxi to the Upper West Side and found an eatery on 86th. It was a breezy day with a kind sun; Therefore, I sat outside. Everything on the menu was free of something, (gluten, diary, soy, sugar.) I decided to order two items an eatery can never mess up, water with lemon and grilled chicken with vegetables.
As I waited for my food, I took a big breath. From there, I noticed the beige apartment building across the street with fire escapes that zig-zag along the side. Then, the various shops among the street covered by construction happening above. The soundtrack were car horns, various conversations, and ambulance sirens. I was overwhelmed.
I landed in a city where survival was daily life and anything above that was considered glamorous. Stress seemed to be spiritual breakfast. People walking oblivious to one another. Concrete overpopulated grass.
To give myself some time to grasp this urban ecosystem, I canceled any auditions I planned for the next few days. I was at an awkward place. I didn’t want to go home; but I wasn’t ready for New York.
“Chicken with vegetables!” the petite waitress said as she placed my food on the table. “Heading to the airport?” she asked.
“No, just landed a few hours ago. I moved here.”
Suddenly, a bolt of energy shifted her mundane personality into excitement. “ YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT HERE!” I politely smirked.
As I ate my food, her words resonated. Then, my outside smirk became an inner smile. Suddenly, the ten year old version of myself who proclaimed that he would move to New York City possessed me. My cynicism was tucked away.
Through it all, I was living my dream.