midwest to manhattan: reaching the mirage

For whatever reason, New York has always remained in my line of vision and someday I hope to live there. Who doesn't have that dream? Midwest to Manhattan is an ongoing series here on the site, dedicated to folks with connections to both the Midwest and Manhattan.

Last month, Eileen Moores shared her story and this week, it's my turn. I spent this past weekend in New York and it was everything I wanted it to be and more. 

There's nothing in the world quite like driving down Lexington Avenue, peering out from your cab's window at the people and buildings passing by. I can speak from experience when I say that the city feels absolutely endless: a maze of people, billboards, and sky. 

Joan Didion wrote a wonderful collection of essays entitled Slouching Towards Bethlehem and this paragraph resonated with me deeply the moment I read it,

“...quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again. I remember walking across Sixty-Second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage.” 

There's something comforting about expectations being met and dreams coming to fruition. New York has embodied those twin sensations for many years and it has come to symbolize possibility; a glittering apparition of hopes and dreams.

In many ways, going to New York City does feel like you're coming out of the West and reaching a long-sought after mirage. And unlike many mirages, this one lives up to all of your expectations. New York reminds me that some things in life are as good as they appear. It's good to know that some mirages remain when you reach them.

I know that visiting New York is much different than living there, but its streets are intoxicating whether or not it's home. That intoxication can also make it difficult to leave. 

Throughout my visit, I was reminded that being within the mirage makes it hard to see outside of it. When I was walking around New York and my mind wandered back to the Midwest, I felt somewhat despondent. But while at first the glamour clouds your vision, it also makes you dream a little bit bigger. You see the possibilities there and you wonder where else can these things happen? If it can happen in New York, that means it's possible anywhere, right? 

New York feels full of opportunity, but I've found that Des Moines actually is full of opportunity. Being in New York only made those opportunities more apparent to me. I'm thankful this is home for the time being because I have spectacular opportunities here that wouldn't exist in other places. And even though I'm full of gratitude for this place that I call home, the mirage of New York persists in my mind.

p.s. a brief rundown of what we did while were there:

Vegan food at By Chloe, coffee at the now-shuttered Ost Cafe on 12th Street, Japanese clothing at Muji, and cookies for breakfast at Levain Bakery. We stayed at this hotel ($110 a night through Expedia!) and spent large amounts of time inside of Uber's because I couldn't figure out the subway system.