New York. I never used to have any burning ambition to go there. I’m not much of a shopper – mostly because my limited finances don’t often allow me to go on a raging spree. I ended up there quite unexpectedly in the winter of 2007, and the city captured my heart in ways I don’t think I can even explain. I can remember the first moment I stepped out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Coming face-to-face… or face-to-steel with the New York Times building filled me with a moment of excitement and then… nothing. I felt almost disappointed. Was this it? It wasn’t what hours of Sex and the City had taught me it would be.
It didn’t take long to fall in love, though. New York City is an assault to the senses. It’s noisy – as noisy as you can possibly imagine it would be. Sirens, horns, shouting, talking, engines… it is truly impossible to take it all in. The sidewalks are always busy, everyone vying for a piece of terra firma, pushing through and constantly moving. Always moving. Even if you want to walk slowly, you can’t. No one ambles along in NYC – it’s as though you are being drawn, compelled against your wishes, driven forward by some invisible force. It’s only when you climb into bed at night that you realise just how much you’ve walked – and how little you’ve rested.
For me, it was the belief that anything can happen in this vibrant, crazy city. Anything you want to be, you can be in New York. The air is positively electric with optimism and resilience. From the middle-aged black man in Central Park who played his saxophone with such moody passion, to the group of thirty-something entrepreneurs in Starbucks who were pitching ideas for a record company, everyone has a story. Everyone is inspiring and interesting.
I’m not in New York today. I’m always missing it, though. If it weren’t for the city, I wouldn’t have written my novel Stolen Nights. I wouldn’t have decided with resolute certainty that THIS was going to be the one. I was inspired when I was there, feeding off the optimism that shines through. I was thinking about it today… and I can’t wait to be back in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.