Thursday, July 30, 2015

Welcome To New York


We all have them.

When we buy a cup of coffee, we expect to taste coffee. We expect our cars to crank. We expect people to act like us and feel shocked when they don’t.


They hurt the best of us.

I am currently in New York City to attend a writing conference. I’ve been anticipating this trip for six-months. In my imagination, I saw myself striding through the city like a celebrity —fashionable, confident, with perfect hair and perfect makeup. I could see myself biking through Central Park, lounging on the rail of a ferry with Manhattan glistening behind me. I fantasized riding the subway and maybe, just maybe falling into Zac Efron’s arms when the vehicle lurched to a stop.

I had expectations. Crazy expectations. And over the past few days, I’ve learned that one of the biggest mistakes people make is to have unrealistic expectations of themselves and the world.

I’ve sure learned my lesson.


Day one.

At the airport, I was body-scanned. Thoroughly. My luggage was probed—the security guards thought my business cards were bullets. Anyway, after being suspected of terrorism, I flew to New York City and arrived at my apartment. I ate dinner at a diner, walked to Radio City and the Rockefeller Center, and prepared myself for the best week of my life.

New York City is beautiful, chaotic, and unceasing. People move fast. They drive fast, live fast. Millions of people crammed onto an island and they merge with each other, crowd into crowd, rarely conversing or smiling. Even though they’re surrounded by so many faces, everyone seems alone.

View from my apartment building's roof

Two of the cats who share my apartment

Day two.

Early morning and a trip to the local bagel shop. Very crowded. Bagged bagel to go. Not good. I’d been told that the bagels in NYC were the best. I was expecting the BEST, but a bagel can only be the BEST when it’s warm, smothered in cream cheese, not cold and plain.

My mom and I purchased metro cards for the subway and mapped our route. We were going to meet Tara Brose (model and sister of Tessa Emily Hall) for coffee in SOHO. We did, but it took a while for us to make the commute. The subway is confusing! My mom and I navigated London and Berlin without a problem, but New York had us baffled. When we finally reached SOHO, we got lost, wandered block after block before finally arriving at the coffeehouse. By that point, I didn’t look like the celebrity I’d envisioned myself to be. I was sweaty, sticky, with frizzy hair and smeared lipstick. And my shoes were giving me blisters! Wonderful!
              Tara arrived—fashionable, confident, with perfect hair and perfect makeup. She is such an amazing person. I loved talking with her, drinking some truly terrific coffee, and being in an air-conditioned, toilet-accessible building.

 Afterwards, my mom and I returned to the dreaded subway and attempted to commute to the Staten Island Ferry. We ended up in Brooklyn—not our desired destination—and after an hour of hopping trains, we made it to the ferry. Let me mention that I didn’t fall into Zac Efron’s arms during the ordeal.


I saw the Statue of Liberty. I walked miles, block-to-block, U-turn, block-to-block again. By the time I returned to the apartment, I was starving, hot, my feet were covered in blisters and my makeup had sloughed off. If there was an award for CRANKIEST PERSON, I probably would’ve won it at that moment. But there wasn’t enough time for me to grovel in my pain and frustration. My mom and I had tickets to see Wicked on Broadway. Finally, a chance for me to look AMAZING! Black leather dress, high-heels, red lipstick—I was ready for a night on the town.

Wicked was incredible. I met one of the lead performers and was feeling good. My mom and I walked to Times Square. Everything was good. Better than good. Great! But adversity should be my middle name because on our way back to the apartment, we got lost, forgot to eat dinner, and fought the masses for miles. My leather dress and high-heels didn’t seem so spectacular anymore. Quite the opposite. My feet were on fire, blistered, oozing, about to contract gangrene and fall off. CRANKIEST PERSON suddenly became I AM GOING TO MUDER YOU IF YOU DON’T FEED ME AND PEEL THESE DANG SHOES OFF MY FEET.

My poor mom managed to half-drag me back to the apartment, feed me a dinner of carrot juice and hummus, and let me prop up my mangled feet.

Word of advice. Fashion doesn’t matter! No one cares what you’re wearing. Dress for comfort. You don’t want to be miserable. Tennis shoes and exercise shorts are the way to go!


Day 3.

The subway strikes again!

My mom and I were headed for Central Park but ended up in Harlem. For a brief moment, we feared for our lives and then quickly called a cab. We went to CafĂ© Lalo, a wonderful restaurant and set of the film “You’ve Got Mail.” Best lunch, coffee, and desert I’ve had in a while. We, then, stepped outside…only to be caught in a downpour. Using takeout menus as umbrellas, we ran through the rain, laughing, and stood under an awning with an older lady for several minutes. The storm strengthened. We ran to a deli. No umbrellas. We ran to a grocer. Umbrellas and a flower shop!

Umbrella Prototype

By that point, my shoes were filled with water. My clothes (the same outfit I was wearing the day earlier) were soaked. Standing in the rain, surrounded by wet strangers, I realized that all the frustration and twisted plans were memories I could laugh about with my mom. Flexibility would make my trip amazing, not pretty clothes and achieved expectations.

Perfection is an illusion, a lie we tell ourselves. Nothing is perfect in this world.

Amused by our misadventures, my mom and I walked through Central Park, went shopping for new shoes and dry clothes, and enjoyed a nice dinner of sushi at a local restaurant.
I found Kyle and Cora's rock from JUST STRENGTH!
        If life went according to plan and fit our expectations, it wouldn’t be interesting. Adversity gives our stories plot-twists, intrigue, and a chance for God to mold us into better people. Loosen up. Inspect your expectations. Are they realistic? Does perfection dictate your happiness? I challenge you to find joy even when things go wrong.

Look for laughter in the storm.

And blistered feet.

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