It's true that New York City is one of the dirtiest, grittiest, loudest places in the world, so then why do we love it so much?
"When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough."
"While we are looking to clean up our cities, NYC brings one something that all the clean air in the world couldn't provide."
These quotes say it all don't they? Any city can be pretty and clean, but it takes a true gem to have its own energy and its own spirit. It is almost as if the city is alive and breathing--it has its own pulse that beats steadily through every subway train, taxi cab, and human footstep. In an episode of Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw refers to New York City as 'the 5th lady' because of its overwhelming presence and influence in the lives of the four central characters.
Its diversity is astounding. A countless number of cultures cohabit in a multitude of boroughs and villages--yet surprisingly, it works. From Little Italy, Chinatown, and the West Village, to Chelsea, the Upper West Side, and Washington Heights, every turn will surely bring adventure to anyone who wishes to truly explore the city and all it has to offer. Something truly special happens here, and there is always the sense that something new and amazing is just around the corner. Besides, where else can you find a Korean market, a Jewish deli, a falafel stand, and a street performer all on the same block as trendy boutique and a group of tourists from Iowa?
Many cities are bustling and exciting, but nowhere other than The Big Apple is the energy truly palpable. Helen Keller once said, "cut off as I am, it is inevitable that I should sometimes feel like a shadow walking in a shadowy world. When this happens I ask to be taken to New York City. Always I return home weary but I have the comforting certainty that mankind is real and I myself am not a dream." This woman who was not blessed with the ability to see or to hear, was forced to rely on her other senses, most notably her ability to feel. The city celebrates those who are unique and different and unites us all, something that is so tangible that it must be felt and truly experienced, not seen or heard. In Kander and Ebb's iconic song New York, New York, I think he speaks for all of us when he says "I want to be a part of it, New York, New York." But we are already a part of it because it celebrates us and what makes us special, from the time our ancestors first stepped onto American soil on Ellis Island to the excitement we all still feel when we wake up in the city that never sleeps.
NYC is a city of hopes, aspirations, and of dreams. I heard it said once that when you walk down a New York City street, everyone that you pass is there in hopes of achieving great success, otherwise they would live somewhere that wasn't so expensive (insert laughter). This resonates with me on a very personal level because I am a singer and a dancer, I have been all my life, and every time I visit this amazing city I am reminded that my biggest dream is to one day perform on The Great White Way. I think all performers have been told many times that their goals are silly and unrealistic, but regardless, the city inspires us to keep dreaming and believing that "if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere." Thanks again Mr. Ebb for those poignant lyrics.
This brings me to my favorite thing about NYC--its celebration of art and the people that create it. Whether you are visiting a world class institution, such as the Museum of Modern Art or Carnegie Hall, or simply stumbling across a drummer or b-boy jamming in a subway, art lives and breathes here and is, in my humble opinion, the very heart of the city. My absolute favorite medium for presenting art is the live theatre. What is it about seeing a play or musical live that both excites and inspires us to such a heightened degree that it pulls us out of ourselves? I've tried many times, unsuccessfully, to express my love of the theatre with words, but I think my friend Shaina says it best. "We go to the theatre, most notably Broadway, to feel. You can exhale, let go, and take everything in. I mean, breaking into song because you have too much inside of you to merely speak? Isn't that what so many of us want to do on a daily basis but can't because it's not really socially acceptable? New York in itself is really one big musical."
I am going to leave you with a video clip that encompasses everything I love about New York City--diversity, community, music, Broadway, and of course, my idol, Bernadette Peters.