I wake up in the morning to the song of sirens and the murmur of traffic, heartbeat of a city that has never gone to sleep. People are already talking loudly outside on the street, music blares from passing cars and children whoop and scream as they play baseball in the scrubby diamond in front of my apartment building. When I leave to launch myself out into this heaving metropolis, I become another cog in the wheel of a gargantuan piece of machinery that never stops whirring. Everywhere you go, footsteps pound, voices chatter, horns honk, lights twinkle, arms are raised, steam belches, people stream from every orifice, smells emanate from all manner of carts and grates and stores…the city is positively alive and moving, and you cannot help but be swept along with it.
This is a city where everyone is on the move and everyone is on the up; the buildings soar high into the sky and on grey days, they even pierce the clouds. New York is the city of dreams; everyone here has one they are trying to achieve. From the busboys in East Village restaurants to the girls working in midtown offices, they have all come here from somewhere else, looking to absorb the energy, the passion, and the sheer life of this throbbing city in order to make something of themselves. Some do, some don’t, but all are united by their belief that here, it is possible to be something more than what they are.
New York is a city of extremes; in the winter, the temperatures plummet to well below freezing, and in the summer, the heat regularly tops 100F. The homeless stand side by side with millionaires on the city streets. Being in the midst of it all can be overwhelmingly loud, but walk into the centre of Central Park and the silence is deafening. It’s not all excitement and glamour; alongside the glorious skyscrapers and magnificent riverside vistas are dingy tenements, ugly concrete office buildings, piles of rotting rubbish and tacky fast food shops. When your mood is low, walking around the ugliest and smelliest parts of midtown can be enough to make you question why you are here, and why exactly you thought this city had any more magic than anywhere else. It is at these moments, just when you think you’ve had enough of striving to make it work here, that New York shines its brightest, striking you afresh by how spectacular it is. It might be an unexpected glimpse of the glittering tip of the Empire State Building, or a midnight stroll through the pretty streets of the East Village; perhaps it’s sitting in Bryant Park watching the world go by, or eating brunch on a sunny sidewalk on a Saturday morning; whatever that moment might be, you’re suddenly reminded of what a magical, unique and truly extraordinary place you are lucky enough to live in, and the awe and affection come flooding back in. For New York may kick you down repeatedly, but it will always offer you the hand you need to pull yourself back up again.
New York is legendary for a reason. It really is a city of dreams. Anything and everything is accepted and acceptable here; no dream is too big, no mountain too high. The air vibrates with positive energy, its people are full of purpose and ambition, and even the highest stories of skyscrapers, virtually impossible to be seen with the naked eye, are lavishly decorated, encouraging you to look up, up, up, in the direction of infinite possibility. It’s not an easy place to call home, and it’s not always delightful, but somehow, it never quite ceases to be compelling, enchanting, addictive and exciting. There’s always something new to see, do, enjoy, and marvel at; there is never a dull moment, and never a pause. New York is not for the faint hearted. It’s for those who believe in the beauty of their dreams, who are determined to reach for the stars, and who aren’t afraid of a few knocks on their way to achieving their ambitions. New York hardens you, but it also opens your eyes to the magnificence of man, making you appreciate the sheer wonder of what we are capable of. This little marshy island, a mere speck in the Atlantic, has become the greatest city on earth. If New York can do it, then why can’t you? That question continues to draw hundreds of thousands of people here every year, seeking fame, fortune, fun and the opportunity to become the person they always thought they might be, given half the chance. New York doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and it chews up and spits out many of these wide eyed innocents who arrive on its hallowed streets with a sparkle in their eye and a suitcase in their hands, but for those it embraces….well. They’ll never be the same again. This is the magic of New York.