when you think of New York City, you imagine the “stereotypical” view of it. The endless sky-scraper draped avenues, the gritty underworld of the subway, the glamour of the all the designer’s fashion houses and the bright lights of Broadway. These are all aspects of the city that are heightened in film & art alike to give the Big Apple it’s romanticized view. Now, when you’re thrust into the hustle and flow of the streets, you can taste a sharp tongue of reality with each step you take, but can this hit of “reality” merge into the likes of the romantic vision of New York? And as Oscar Wilde has famously quoted, can life really imitate art?
I’ve been living in New York City for two months, moving here for school in early August. Like many other young people who make the move to the city, it was a dream of mine since childhood; I was just itching to get a feel for city life, with the romanticized picture of NYC painted through my mind’s eye. Upon arriving, I was shell-shocked of the initial immersive quality of the city. Walking about and discovering my surrounds was a revitalizing experience for me, and taught me a lot of my capabilities as an artist. Yet, there was a sense of loss & of unfulfillment of my expectations of what New York is so regularly portrayed as.
“Would I make it? Am I cut out for this? Am I even a New Yorker?”
Being in school and also being confronted with many people who were hustling in the same realm as me made me feel like I hit a point of “reality”. Like: “Alright, THIS is what New York REALLY is! A gritty, tough, cut-throat town that can chew you up and spit you out if it wanted to!!” I felt overwhelmed of my surroundings and within two weeks was worrying frantically about assignments, making deadlines, expenses and overall fear of not “making the cut”. Yet, I never lost my sense of wonderment and romanticism of what New York is about. I rejected what the city was trying to make me out to be.
And it came to a point where I realized, the “reality” of a situation and it’s romanticized viewpoint can merge as one if you allow it to.
It may seem difficult, but you’re more than capable of living out your fantasies. It may been labeled as way to expensive to even consider, or out of reach for what you want out of life, but you can make it happen if you want it. New York has that quality to me. I am able to coexist in my fantasy of what New York is and with the challenges it’s actuality gives me. Even with all of NYC’s history, the moment you walk down those crackled sidewalks the city is your blank canvas, and you choose the colors and the brushes and the tones and the shading you want to create that portrait you need to be yourself in a place that can be very polarizing. You just have to be able to blend the lines of who you are and what everything else is too. The city isn’t what molds me, I make myself into all I am, and that is something seen through the artist and the canvas.
And so it seems, life can imitate art, in the sense that you can thrive in your fantasies if you remain true to your souls desires.