Internet meanderings: On gritty New York


At the end of my final year in school, my best friend and I convinced our mothers to take us on a mother-daughter trip to New York before we headed off to University.

Frank Sinatra will tell you. Alicia Keys will tell you. Jay-Z will tell you- New York is the city of possibility. It’s the place where dreams are built and hopes are dashed.

Living in South Africa for my entire life made the idea of New York a completely foreign concept to me. The beauty of this country is completely different to the lure of a big city like New York. Seeing it on TV and in movies made me desperate to visit the city and experience the vibe for myself. Surely, with all the hype surrounding it, it had to be amazing? But what if it was disappointing after all the years of building it up in my mind?

Now, I’m still not entirely sure how we did it, but we actually managed to get them to book the trip and on the 19th of January, 2012, all four of us found ourselves in the middle of Times Square. Standing there, I was surrounded by the sounds, lights and people of the city. It was a weird feeling; a mixture of thrill and hesitance. It was thrilling because I was finally in the big apple and hesitancy because I was finally in the big apple. #lolwhut

The only thing I can compare it to is the feeling of holding the final Harry Potter book in my hands. While running a finger down the thick, blue and green spine of the book I almost couldn’t wait to indulge in the reading fiesta that was about to take place. but I also almost didn’t want to start reading the Deathly Hallows because that mean’t the beginning of the end of a series that I had loved for so many years.

That was what New York was like the first time. The thrill of being there but also the worry that It wouldn’t live up to my expectations or that it would and then I would have to leave the city I’d daydreamed about for so many years.

Since then, I’ve been back once. On arrival I feared I might be bored experiencing the city travelling back again so soon. But I wasn’t. It was just as life affirming as the first trip. As the myriad of hoodies, cups, magnets and keychains say; I ❤ NY. I really do.

Now my only worry is how I’ll make enough cash dollar to travel back to the city again and again (I guess the only option is to up and move there #SomeonePleaseGetMeACoolNewYorkBasedJob #Thanks).

So in the meantime, while I wait for my opportunity to return again, the only way I can satiate my intense need to relive the New York experience is to scroll through the stories and experiences of other travelers in New York.

Recently, the Google helped me come across  a blog called “Comedy Travel Writing”. The title legitimately combines my three favourite things; comedy, travel and writing. If it was called “Comedy Travel Writing and Bar-one Waffles” then I would have just given up my life as a human, transformed myself into a blog and then married that blog. Luckily, it was only the first one so I’m still sitting here as a homo sapien.

Surprisingly, the post that grabbed me the most wasn’t one that made me snort laugh like a baby elephant seal. Titled “New York is…New York is…Well, New York is this…” I expected something about how it was the city where people came to achieve their dreams. I was wrong…

The post is a train of thought type post. It’s one long sentence full of commas which would make any grammar Nazi squirm in their seats and want to pull their teeth out. In the post, the author describes moving through the streets of the city. If you can ignore the lack of coherent structure it becomes clear that the post  has its own beauty.

“Anything that happened two seconds ago is too late for New York.”

The long run on lines capture the fast paced, claustrophobic, heart beat of the city.

“I’m past the man in his early 30s lying on the ground with a cardboard sign that says “HIV positive. Help me out. God bless New Yorkers”, his box has maybe four dollars, four dollars fifty, and he’s been there all day, he’ll die I guess, he’s had his life in New York and now the city is taking it away,”

New York City is relentless. New York City is unforgiving. The description of the HIV positive man is especially jarring for those of us who only like to think of the Empire State Building, Starbucks, Central Park horse carriages and super kitsch statue of liberty foam hats when they think of New York.

This short post is the gritty version of New York. It’s the gritty version of the city that I love. The gritty city that  I will one day fully explore and experience for myself.



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