Let me begin with the note that this picture was taken by my great friend Pippa, so the solo in the title will soon be explained.
As you may know, or if you don't here's the fact, this is my first time ever in NYC. The big apple had always been a destination on my radar. Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Malibu were places I was familiar with. Just as east coasters dream of heading to the golden state, I had an aspiration to head east. I planned accordingly and was able to spare myself one day in the city before heading to Geneva. Today I spent the day with my friend Pippa, but this post is about the few hours I had to be alone. This is my reflection on traveling single in the city.
When I got to my hotel I decided to take a nap. I awoke to see my phone flash 9:30p.m. and I though 'Shit!' I was hungry and assumed I'd have to scramble to find sustenance. As I lassoed on my scarf outside the hotel I noticed that the city was alive. The veins of the city were the bright lights, its muscles the pounding subways and the heart was the people.
I was close to Union Plaza and remembered taking that subway before. I thought a safe test would be to head to Times Square. The first time, I messed up. I headed in the direction of NYU. When I got off I realized I had to switch my side of the street. I took another subway and listened closely to hear the stops. "This stop is Times Square" said the recorded voice.
As the doors opened I began fishing for my phone in my jacket. I stood on the platform and checked my battery, 78 percent that's a solid number. Rising up the stairs was not easy because I hadn't dressed as well as I should have. In joggers, sneakers, a light sweater and a peacoat I was going to stroll around the iconic space. The first time I came here I was with Gail and she had prepared me well. This time was my first time here alone.
I tried FaceTiming my sister and my friends, but no luck. After I remembered the time difference I understood that they were still busy. Walking past the looming H&M I noticed a Starbucks on the opposite corner. Naturally I would go there, but I came here alone because I wanted something new.
I slid the phone into my pocket and swung my head back and forth looking for a place to eat. A neon sign captured my attention. It read, "Authentic Mexican-Aguas Frescas-Tacos-Guacamole." I noticed a wave of people cross the street and I scurried over to join them. A few minutes later I had made it into the restaurant.
"How many in your party?" asked the smiling waitress whose brown hair wrapped around her face. For a second I felt uncomfortable answering, "Just me." She grabbed the menu and with her olive colored arm pointed forward.
I got a window seat looking out to Times Square and I was sandwiched between two parties. My instinct would have been to reach for my phone and look at my feeds. But I resisted my angst and instead decided to do some people watching. My server approached me and her blonde ponytail bounced as she introduced herself.
I oredred enchilladas and got a virgin mojito.
As I ate my meal my mom called me. I answered and the first thing I did was show her Times Square. "Mom look I made it!" I said. We caught up and I knew what was coming. Luckily, I had already paid my bill so when my mom hung up I left back outside. I turned to a corner close to the door, a space where I would like I was busy, and just let it out.
Tears descended from my face to join the pools on the ground. I was really here in NYC and I was alone. The whole trip I had the fortune to be with friends. But this was me on my own. I had some errands to run and knew I had to compose myself. Finding a simple Walgreens took me 20 minutes. Yes I know there is one in the Square, but I kept missing it. Even getting home was hard.
I kept accidentaly going up, forgetting to cross the street to go down. When I made it back to Union then I headed to Starbucks. After grabbing my drink, I walked outside and found a bench. I sat there and just sipped in silence. Hundreds of people passed me, each on their own path. I wondered how many of their paths crossed each other's and maybe whose would cross mine.
I made it back to my hotel and the feeling of being alone dissipated. Here I am at 2am writing this because that feeling has hit me again.
I think this feeling is one that's always present, just often ignored. However, I am grateful that I am here. People spend their whole lives wondering what L.A. and NYC are like and I got to experience them both now.
It is too early to tell where my life will take me, but at least I know that I have a goal. Whether it's working in television in L.A. or publishing in New York City being alone is what I will experience first. But being alone isn't all that bad, because when I'm alone I get to know who I am.
I am Will and I will do great things.