It’s hard to believe that it’s been over seven months since the last time my feet were planted firmly on Australian soil. For the last six of those seven months I’ve been a resident of New York City, definitely something I never thought would happen. Spending this time in America was something I always dreamed about but not something I completely expected to happen.
The 22nd June 2009 seems like only yesterday but when I actually take the time to think about it, the 22nd June 2009 may as well be a lifetime ago. So much has occurred in the 218 days that have passed since then. Not only did I experience the longest day of my life, – 22nd June was the never-ending Monday if there ever was one; instead of a summer solstice on December 21st everything was reversed and I got to live the shortest day of the year twice because of being in the Southern Hemisphere for their winter solstice as well.
Apart from living in New York, I’ve been to Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Francisco, San Diego, Mexico, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Denver; as well as driving through Connecticut and New Jersey. Let’s not forget the curious adventures in Doylestown, PA as well! In the small amount of time I’ve been here I’ve been to more places than some Americans go to in their entire lifetimes! In every state and in every city there were adventures experienced and memories made.
If best laid plans always came to fruition then I would not be living in New York right now. Instead, I would be on the other side of the country in San Francisco. As soon as I arrived there I fell in love with it, it was so familiar yet so different. The majestic Golden Gate Bridge rising out of the mist and glowing orange in the sunlight, the searing heat from the wharf parking lot where Warped Tour was held, the dollhouse-like terraces lining the hilly streets, – there was nothing I could find to dislike about San Francisco, – not even the dirty street punks that lined Haight Street begging for my spare change every time I walked past them.
Fate intervened though and at the end of July I found myself packing my bag in Boston for New York. If I fell in love with San Francisco, I fell in lust with New York City. It captivated me before I even set foot in it. As the train pulled into Penn Station I already recognized names of places I’d only heard of on TV and the movies, – Union Square, 34th Street, Times Square, the list just goes on and on. Summer in the city can be cruel, it was so humid that it was almost impossible to get dry after a shower and you could forget about trying to straighten your hair! The humidity was relieved by afternoon rain and thunder storms that cooled the air for the kind of warm summer nights where you don’t need a jacket and it’s impossible to imagine it ever being colder than 65F.
I could ramble on and on about everything I’ve seen and done here in America but that would could occupy an entire book. Some of my highlights that I can think of off the top of my head are below:
Seeing the Hollywood sign up close and personal; the Hollywood Hills in the early hours of the morning and the surprise appearance of a deer; going to a show at the Viper Room.
I’ve sunbathed in San Diego and swum in the Pacific Ocean; I tried to snorkel but ended up with a nose full of salt water instead. I met more foreigners than Americans in Pacific Beach and realized just how bad the Australian accent sounds thanks to the other backpackers at the Banana Boat Hostel.
I went to Mexico. We drank margaritas for lunch and watched in horror as the Mexican barman went around our group with a whistle, a bottle of tequila and a towel. There was no tequila left by the time he’d gone through everyone. I almost didn’t get back over the border from Mexico, the only reason I’m on the right side of the US-Mexican border today is due to some quick thinking from the group leader from our hostel.
A $90 cab ride from Sacramento to Marysville. Yes, $90. Thank God for backstage passes to Mayhem fest, margaritas the size of my head, 100F temperatures in the shade (and air-con tour buses to match!), new friends, Slayer, boca burgers that got cooked for me and a free ride back to the hotel. Pretty much the best $90 cab ride ever. And this Sacramento experience led to me returning there in December to continue the party times.
Staying in the house that Andy Hurley from Fall Out Boy lives in. Seeing raccoons (that may or may not have been infected with rabies) at 2 in the morning. Learning that there’s more to Milwaukee than just beer, beer, beer and more beer.
Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Visiting New York City, Paris and a tropical volcanic island all in one night and never leaving The Strip. VIP clubs with neon blue drinks, fake shots, winning 15 cents on a poker machine, flamingoes wherever I turned, walking through the desert to Wholefoods, $2 margaritas at five in the morning.
Hearing Billy Joel & Elton John serenade the crowd at Wrigley Stadium in Chicago as we rushed past to go see Four Year Strong/Set Your Goals; seeing Aleks & Matt in Chicago for total Soundwave reunions on the other side of the world.
The dodgey $12/night hostel in downtown Brooklyn that marked the start of the New York adventure/obsession. No power on the top floor, leaking air-con, broken showers but that didn’t stop Mayan and I from bonding over Mischa Barton having a breakdown. Crazy French people with champagne and expensive private booths at hole-in-the-wall clubs.
Seeing Blink 182 at Jones Beach; dragging Mayan to Angels & Kings the night after just so I could see Pete, Brendan, Mark and Vinnie all in the same room; overly-friendly and overly-generous bartenders; my friends putting up with me making them go see all of Vinnie’s shows in the Manhattan/Brooklyn area.
Seeing the Empire State, the Chrysler Building and the Statue of Liberty for the first time. Picnicking in Central Park and watching squirrels run in and out of the tree roots, – if I could keep one as a pet I would. I’ve window-shopped Fifth Avenue, – Tiffany & Co., Bendels, Saks, Barneys, as well as hundreds of designer stores up and down the avenue. I visited the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center and spent a few minutes watching the ice-skaters glide around the shadow of the main building.
I’ve paid my respects at Ground Zero and cried in the September 11th Memorial Museum.
I’ve seen Kahlo to Warhole at MOMA; gazed upon the French Impressionists at the Met; stared in wondrous awe at Van Gough and Dali; walked through an Egyptian temple older than Jesus; had a face-off with a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull; and touched a meteor that came from a place in outer space where stars are made.
I know now that a half empty subway carriage isn’t something to be thankful for, – usually the vacant seats surround a person that smells worse than anything you could imagine. I’ve conquered the subway map and know the uptown F train never comes when you need it to and the Brooklyn bound M train always leaves the Myrtle Wykoff station a minute before the connecting J train arrives; chance meetings on the subway with people you haven’t seen in awhile.
I’ve come to call Brooklyn my home; drinking Turkey’s Nest giant-sized margaritas in McCarren Park in the summertime, posing for photos with oversized Christmas trees in the wintertime. The weekend ritual of Turkey’s Nest, Union Pool and Legion; not leaving Legion until the dj’s have played Jay-Z and Alicia Keys ode to New York at least twice; photobooth photos and the Mexican taco truck in the backyard of Union Pool; my fast food saviour and an all-round yummy meal of vegan pizza at Vinnies. Haunting Buffalo Exchange and Beacons Closet and filling my wardrobe full of wonderful, crazy, beautiful vintage finds. Wandering up and down Bedford Ave on the weekend seeing what the sidewalk vendors have on offer; $2 roadside pretzels becoming a main source of my nutrition, especially when coupled with a can of $1 Dr. Pepper.
Living through my first White Christmas and temperatures that stay in the minus range for days on end; waking up to watch snow fall outside my window; walking through snow drifts up to my knees just to get home; the simultaneous crunch and silence of the snow as it piles up.
Being a tour guide for the seemingly endless parade of Australians visiting; getting to show everyone my favourite places in my adopted city and starting trends with vodka-sours; Tash and I getting our photo on a fifteen story billboard in Times Square.
Most importantly, meeting people that will be friends for life. Without them I know my experience would not be half as amazing as it is.
New York is known as the city that never sleeps. I’ve certainly had my share of sleepless nights here so far and am looking forward to the many more to come in the next six months. There is an indescribable quality to this city that I don’t think I could ever describe to someone who hasn’t spent time here. Every morning as my train goes over the Williamsburg Bridge, crossing over from Brooklyn to Manhattan, I make a point to always look up from whatever book I’m reading to look out over the city skyline. Everyday the sight of the sprawling city and towering buildings makes me want to pinch myself just to make sure it’s all real. Yes, I’m really in New York.
my favourite new york building, the chrysler, as viewed from the empire state building.