Land of Make Believe (NYC Day 1)

Spoiler alert: I am writing this blog from my room at the NYAP housing in Manhattan!

Now to rewind.

Yesterday (Saturday) morning my mom, dad, and I set out on our drive to New York City. Flying would have saved us a lot of boredom, but allowed us a considerably smaller amount of convenience regarding the transportation of my belongings. It was surprisingly easy to pack (all of which happened entirely the night before). After having packed to move in to a dorm twice, as well as numerous extended stays for long horse shows, I’m no stranger to the process.

We left at about nine in the morning. The drive was relatively uneventful. I spent most of it knitting a scarf, which makes time pass in strange ways. It’s not the I’m-having-a-blast-where-has-the-time-gone sort of thing…more like the minutes just start to blend together because it’s so repetitive. Some highlights from the actual drive were: finishing the scarf, getting a couple hours of that bizarre kind of sleep that (thankfully) only happens on long car rides, passing a sign that read “Jersey Shore 1 mile,” and passing an even better sign that pointed the way to “Land of Make Believe.” We stopped about an hour and a half outside the city in a town in New Jersey called “Netcong.” We had spent the entire day driving—it was 8:30 pm before we sat down to dinner at Outback Steakhouse. At first I couldn’t get enough of the Jersey accents…until we had to spend an entire hour listening to a girl at the table next to us blab about her love life. Which was not even an interesting love life.

After a sub-par free breakfast (I’ve stayed in so many cheap hotels I’ve become an expert on the complimentary breakfast) we hopped in the car to make our way into the city. When we had originally entered the address of the program housing into the GPS in Michigan it had offered us the option of choosing from two of the exact same addresses, which we thought was slightly suspicious. Sure enough, it took us to some strange location that was not even in Manhattan at all. Rookie mistake…but it ended up being a lot easier to find the address once we were already in the city. So, after a slight detour, we arrived in Chelsea at around ten thirty am. Somehow there was a parking spot right outside the front of the building, which we took to be a small miracle. We did some preliminary “oh my gosh this room is so small” –ing and moved in what we could before we decided it was time to take a lunch break and make a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond for more storage. We walked in the direction of the store for a few blocks and finally decided on dining in the unique, the exotic…Olive Garden.

Bed, Bath and waaaaaay, way Beyond…it’s possible you could go to only this one store for the rest of your life and never need to go anywhere else. There was even a kind of grocery-store-marketplace in the middle. We wandered around (which was like navigating a small country) until we found all the items on our last-minute list, then stuffed ourselves and our purchases in a taxi back to the dorms. Upon returning, we discovered my new roommate hanging out in our room. She goes to Hope College and is training at the Joffrey Ballet School this semester (!!!). I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate, she’s so nice and considerate. Cue giant sigh of relief.

My parents took off soon after. My mom made sure to snag a couple (million) pictures of me outside the dorms before leaving, of course. I’ve never been away from home for so long before, so it was a teary goodbye on her part. About five hours later she texted me to warn me that she had left my sharp knife blade side up in my mug sitting on one of the shelves in our room, and that I should flip it over so we don’t cut ourselves. Who knows what made her think of that, but it definitely made me laugh.

After I put all my stuff away I was tempted to sit in our room on facebook for the rest of the evening. I’ve always admired people who just go out and do things on their own—not just without their parents, but without anyone at all. People who feel comfortable enough being alone with themselves that they can go to a movie alone, or go sit at a restaurant and eat alone. So, in the interest of the self-discovery and growth that this adventure promises, I set out around four o’clock to join a gym a short walk away from the program housing. Considering I plan on running the Kalamazoo half marathon in May (and am currently running only three miles at the embarrassing rate of twelve minutes a mile) this was also a practical endeavor. Just a couple doors down from the gym was a delicious bagel place. I can’t remember the name, but I know it was something like Brooklyn Bagels. It was brimming with amazing-smelling bagels and giant mounds of every kind of homemade cream cheese possible. I want to go back ASAP and get a blueberry bagel with blueberry cream cheese. Just like me…I head out to find a gym and I come back with a new bagel obsession. I decided to start out with my old stand-by: a plain bagel toasted with peanut butter. I ate my bagel dinner and people watched for a little while. When I stepped out the door of the bagel shop to head back, I (literally) ran into Elaine and Amanda from K (weird coincidence much?) and we all walked back together.

Immediately I’m realizing just how small my comfort zone is. At the gym at home, I know how all the machines work, I know when all the classes are, where and when people tend to accumulate…hell, I pretty much know most of the people there. Everything about my life here will be different. At first that scared me beyond belief. But now, I’m realizing that it’s unsettling in a good way. It’s like I can step into someone else’s life for a while and rest there, like the ultimate vacation. Even when I go back to Michigan, I’ll have gained so much perspective from this different life. In New York City it’s hard to be self conscious like I tend to be. Everything is fast paced, everyone is busy, and people are everywhere…no one has time to judge.

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