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I’ll Take Manhattan

It all began with an image from the band, Blondie. My mom had their album, Autoamerican, and while I was immediately fascinated with Debbie Harry; it was the image behind her on that cover that I became fixated on. It was the Manhattan skyline and I will never forget starring at the image thinking how magical of a place it looked.

I was very young but I remember imaging myself living there one day. The city became my obsession and once I got my first journal, I would write daily about how one day I would move to the city and become somebody. As a kid, instead of posters on my wall of famous celebrities, I would tear out images of the city from Vogue magazine and put them on my wall (of course I made room for Madonna). It was easy for me to get lost in anything and everything that had to deal with New York.

By the time I was in junior high, I didn’t have many friends but there was one guy that befriended me and stood up for me, after I was bullied in the hallways. He was insanely tall and didn’t say a word. One day, he asked me, “What’s your story?” He should have never asked me that question because from then on, I didn’t stop talking about New York. How I was going to move there to be a dancer, see my name in lights and live in a gorgeous apartment in the West Village. Every day we would have lunch and every day I would tell him about my dreams and goals and any new fact I learned about New York. He sat there and listened to my every word. One day, I finally got the courage to ask him why he never talked and his response was priceless. He said, “Because you never stop talking.” It was true and still to this day, it remains a fact.

High school took place in a very small town and I knew there was no way in hell that I was going to stay one minute longer than I had to in order to make it to the Big Apple. I busted my ass in school and told anyone that would listen that I was going to leave them all in the dust to become someone famous. I skipped my junior year of high school, took a year to save money and on October 11, 1996, I moved to New York.

Here we are, 17 years later and while not all my dreams have come true (whose does?) one dream certainly did come true. That was the fact that this city has exceeded all of my expectations. Nothing can or will ever prepare you for the journey you have once you move here. However, there is one simple fact about living here and it goes like this: If you love her – She will love you back. If you don’t understand her – She will make sure that you go back to wherever the hell you came from.

Present day and I am grateful to have amazing friends and a career that is finally blossoming. Last Thursday, I found myself in very familiar territory…the first date. It would mark my first date in over a month and I was rather looking forward to it. I had met him through OKCupid and his messages over the past week or so were actually impressive. He knew how to communicate. We decided to meet at the wine bar, XAI XAI, in Hell’s Kitchen. We both arrived on time and were seated at the bar. On first glance, he is not my typical type of guy that I go out with. Yes. He was tall. Yes. He had a scruffy face. However, the catch was that he was…well…full figured. I told myself to overlook that because who the hell was I to judge anyone based on physical appearance.

I could tell he was shy at first and so I decided to break the ice with the usual questions that you are supposed to ask on the first date. By the time the first bottle of wine was done, he had gotten over his shyness. We decided to order another bottle and continue with our date. He had confessed to me about how hard it was to live in this city where image can be rather important and I told him that the great thing about living in the city, is that you don’t have to give a shit what anyone thinks of you. I did my best to give him a positive pep talk and it seemed to do the trick. At the end, he asked if he could see me again and I agreed.

The next day, Friday, marked my 17th year anniversary of moving to Manhattan. Every year, it is my tradition to take myself out for a drink and raise the glass to surviving another year here. I had a smart glass of red wine and toasted myself and the city. Afterwards, I was to meet everyone at the bar, Atlas Social Club, for a friends’ 40th birthday party. The other exciting news was that my favorite ex-roommate of mine was in town visiting. Maybe it was the fact that it was Friday, my anniversary or seeing old friends but I became rather drunk. I was kicking the cocktails back like it was Kool-Aid. After the party, my old-roommate and I found ourselves dancing by ourselves at Therapy and suffice to say, everything was pretty fuzzy by the time I got home in the early morning hours.

Rarely do I sleep in but I looked at the alarm clock on Saturday morning and was shocked to see it read: 11 a.m. I just transferred my body from the bed to the couch and order greasy food. It was a gorgeous day in the city and finally a friend convinced me to get my ass in gear. I went to the gym to sweat out the night before and back home to begin getting ready for another friends’ house party. The party itself was nice and to see my friends again but I could tell that we all were somewhat exhausted from the night before. I managed to get home by 2 a.m. and knew I could sleep in for I didn’t have to meet my second date till 1:30 on Sunday.

Still not feeling 100% rested, I managed to rally myself to get up and begin getting ready for my date. For some reason, I wasn’t as excited about the second date as I should have been. I chalked it up to being exhausted and told myself to put on a happy face. He had picked the restaurant, Hundred Acres, down in Soho. When I arrived, he was already waiting for me. I instantly noticed something stuck in his beard, I wasn’t going to address it but when he finally asked me, “What? Is there something on my face?” I told him, “Actually, yes. There is. I am just not sure what it is.” He brushed his beard and realized that it was food crumbs; he confessed that he needed a muffin before we had brunch.

We sat down and it was there that I knew this wasn’t going to work. It was me. I was not attracted to him and on top of that, I began to see his demons come out. His demon was food and his way of dealing with it. He didn’t talk about anything else the entire time except for food. How he loved it. How he hated it. How he couldn’t wait for the fruitwood bacon to arrive. He said he had never been in a relationship in seven years because he was dealing with his issues and still has them. I felt guilty for sitting there and not wanting to be there anymore. I wanted to help him instead. I did my best to sympathize with him as he continued to eat feverishly. When the plates were cleared from our table he said, “I am going to need something else. I am not full yet.” We were supposed to go to a movie afterwards but I would be running late for a dinner that I had later that night and still needed to run errands. I walked him to the train station and told him it was nice meeting him. While the date wasn’t a success, it also wasn’t a bust either. He was very appreciative of the tips I gave him and I only hope that he fights that battle and wins.

As the week begins and we are graced with another week of endless possibilities; I couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude toward Manhattan. This blog is about my dating experiences and relationships yet the relationship I have with the city is the most intense. Like all relationships, we fight, we make-up, we love, we hate and then there are times when we both need to step into our own corners and take a breather. However, with all the roller coaster of emotions that we have for each other, I know that at the end of each night, we belong together. Wherever you live, I hope that you love and appreciate it. New York isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, you can either take it or leave it but as for me, it is rather simple…I’ll Take Manhattan.

8 Comments

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