Let me explain.
I recently spent a few days in the city with a college friend. It had been something like 15 years since I’d been there. We had a marvelous time. Restaurants. Shopping. Cupcakes. The Met. Katz’s Deli. Beautiful, tall buildings. The Highline. Central Park. SOHO. Times Square. We reenacted entire scenes from When Harry Met Sally. We saw a friend we hadn’t seen in years and met his delightful wife. I ate steak tartare and octopus for the first time. We spent a very moving hour at the beautiful 9/11 memorial. We rode lots and lots of subways, and almost never accidentally went in the wrong direction. Naps every day to rejuvenate. (It’s kind of ridiculous that all of that was just three days.) And theater. Theater. My god, the theater.
The shows were magical. (Imagine “magical” is in sparkly, shimmery, glittering, light up, twirling letters.) That’s right, plural.
We made a trip to the ½ price ticket booth on Saturday and got some kick-ass ½ price seats at the kick ass, Tony-award winning revival of “Anything Goes”. I didn’t know much about it going in, but had seen Sutton Foster perform on the Tonys last year and I couldn’t get it out of my head. And I still can’t. It took my breath away. I want to learn to tap. It was delightful and de-lovely. And Sutton Foster is a freakin’ badass. I confess, her arms scared me a little (very, very long and incredibly wiry), but badass.
Our final night was when we saw The Book of Mormon. The show did not disappoint, and it was the perfect ending to our action-packed adventure. It was so very, very, very wrong. So inappropriate. Chock full of dazzling, irreverent musical numbers filled with foul language. (Five of the tracks on the soundtrack are flagged as “explicit”.) And the packed house ate. it. up. I was in heaven. We spilled out of the theater, and directly across the street people were flowing out from a performance of Chicago, and in every direction there were theaters with the best shows in the world, and it was thrilling. I have seen marvelous performances in Chicago and Indy and have thoroughly enjoyed touring productions here in town at the Embassy. But there is nothing in the world like Broadway. Nothing. NOTHING. I was completely high on theater.
You knew a “but” was coming, right?
Everything we think about New York is true. It’s jam-packed with people. They’re all in a hurry. They don’t seem very happy. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I made eye contact. I said, “excuse me”. I smiled. I looked around at things. Sometimes I made Greg walk more slowly. I wanted ice in my water. Jesus. Why the hell don’t they like cold beverages?
We were on the subway Sunday morning, and three young women were sitting together on the train. Each was holding a helium-filled balloon, which suggests they were either on the way to or from something fun. Yet they stared stoically at the floor, their hands, into nothingness. No smiles. No giggles. They looked somewhere between bored and pissed off. And most people on the subway looked like that. They also were dressed too deliberately. Everybody. Doesn’t anyone ever just put on a hoody? Don’t get all judgy on me and think I’m some Midwestern hick. I like to look cute. But sometimes I’m just going to hang with a friend or going to the library or running errands. And there was no “I don’t care” present in the city. It was too intentional for my taste.
And all those great things I rattled off that we did, especially the theater? There’s no way the people living there are taking advantage of it on any kind of regular basis. Partly because they probably can’t afford to. I developed a theory that there are no overweight people in NY because a) they have to walk 87 miles to get anywhere (not necessarily a problem) and b) they can’t afford food (more of a problem).
And here’s the thing: other than Broadway, there isn’t anything in NY that I can’t fully satisfy my craving for closer to home. I am a Midwestern girl, and my heart is in Chicago. The Art Institute, the Magnificent Mile, Grant Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, Lake Michigan – those feed my soul just as thoroughly as the experiences we had in New York, and I can be there in a few hours with travel expenses to the tune of a tank of gas. Plenty of outstanding restaurants and bakeries to feed my belly, as well.
Any trip to a big city always confirms that I’m living in the right place, too. I love to visit them, love to come home. Too many people, too close together. I would freak out. As previously mentioned, I love my house, my yard, and my dog, which is one of the luxuries of living in Fort Wayne. My friend’s NY wife was astonished that I, a single woman with a dog, live in my own house. With four bedrooms, to boot.
This is not to suggest I won’t go back to New York, and soon. I would plan an annual Broadway pilgrimage if funding allowed. I will happily spend another few days there from time to time, especially with an excellent traveling companion/tour guide like I had this time. I’m just not googly-eyed for it, the way so many people seem to be, and expect me to be.
I do not (heart) NY. But I would be delighted to have a fling with it every couple of years.