Tracy's New York Life | A New York City Lifestyle Blog: Chances Are: My New York, from 1979 until Now

Chances Are: My New York, from 1979 until Now

I wrote the original version of this post five years ago, long before the blog was born, and shortly after I moved to Manhattan.
A Chorus Line in the 1970s
I remember the first time I visited New York City at the age of twelve. I made the trip with my mother and a group of other young aspiring dancers. We attended a summer convention with dance classes in all genres. We also experienced the Big Apple and all the city had to offer in 1979.  

I can visualize that trip like it happened last year –– stepping off the bus overwhelmed and smitten at the same time. Without pause, I said the words so many New Yorkers have said, "I'm going to live here one day." How I felt, knew, or even imagined that at the age of 12 and within 24 hours of arrival, I couldn't begin to say. But I knew. Seeing the original production of  A Chorus Line certainly didn't hurt the experience either.  Even though my mother covered my ears for half of the show.

I guess I can compare it to a person feeling sure about anything so important to them in life. A child knowing what he wants to be when he grows up, or having that deep in your gut feeling when you have finally found your life partner. Throughout my teens and also into my young adult years, dance in New York was always my love.  As corny as it sounds, all of the meaningless dates and imaginary boyfriends never quite cut it. Although I searched, I never found the type of love that lasts a lifetime.

I thought my first true love was classical ballet. But of course my desire to dance in the ballet was in New York City. It was always New York. I can think of at least four separate occasions over the years when my opportunity crumbled.

After my multiple attempts, I finally put the dream behind me and tried to forget about my love affair with this city.  I failed for the last time in 1985. I remember thinking that I'd finally done it. At the age of almost 19, I'd become a New Yorker. I slept a night with my head on a kitchen table in a filthy apartment that was to be my sublet with another dancer.  Live here?  No way. I scoured the city that day and searched for a cleaner alternative with no success. A large one bedroom on the Upper East Side at $700 a month sounded too good to be true, and it was.

Then about a year or so later, I got a call and my friend and roommate-to-be had found an apartment.  I could pack my bags and go, just like that. But I didn't. The last experience had left a bad taste in my mouth.  As hungry as I once was, I was now scared and confused. I wanted to stay in Pennsylvania with my friends and my minimum-wage job. I felt like a grown up in real life and I liked it. I gave up on New York and did not even return as a tourist for seven years. Just like a dead-end relationship, I thought it was over for good.  And so I moved on.
Exterior Grant Park House in Atlanta
I relocated to Philadelphia and attended art school for several years.  After graduation and a brief stint back home in PA, I considered giving it another shot.  But something stopped me. Perhaps I knew that I could no longer accept the rejection.  Or maybe it was my acceptance that some things are just not meant to be. So I had an opportunity to migrate to the South, and Atlanta became my home for 12 years.  I met my husband, started a business, owned a big house, had more friends than I could count, and accomplished all that is expected as a thirty-something.   
624 Berne Parlor in Atlanta
When 9-11 happened, I remember how devastated I was. All of America was distraught.  I remember thinking this horrific tragedy happened to my city.  It was a city that I'd not visited in years, and still I felt a strong connection. I wanted to be there despite the tragedy and chaos.  I felt helpless and too far away.

I began visiting Manhattan again in 2002, and not to my surprise, I fell all over again.  I began to dream the dream more than 20 years later.  My nostalgia returned and it was more intense than my early years.  I looked for every opportunity to go back again and again, sometimes several times in one year.  I would daydream on almost a daily basis at one point. I thought that I'd never live there, but I could fantasize.
Then in 2007, unexpectedly my life changed course. Due to the housing crisis and a weakening economy, my husband found himself without a job.  After many applications and interviews, he had multiple offers in Manhattan.  My dream could now become reality. Could I actually make the move and adjust my life at the age of forty?

Questions raced through my mind. Could I take this chance once again? My lifestyle would drastically change. I'd downsize from my 2800 square foot Victorian bungalow to a 900 square foot apartment. I'd ride the subway every day instead of driving. I'd have to give up what I thought was an easier lifestyle. It’s funny how destiny takes over. Somehow all of the questions were answered. And here I am.

Now 30 years later, as I walk many of the same streets that I walked so many years ago, I stop and think. I think about my time here when I was young, inexperienced and naive.  I think about the way the city has changed mostly for the better. I think about the blood, sweat and tears and all the emotion through my years of training and aspiration to dance professionally. I also think that perhaps my love of loves was never really ballet to begin with.
Columbus Circle in the 1980s
What I adored was the adventure and excitement of coming to this city to be a part of it all.  I was like a tiny needle in a haystack, but also an individual. I felt a sense of belonging and comfort that I'd never felt before. The thrill, energy and beat of this town that no other city can even begin to touch were an addiction for me and still are.

In 2007, I've found my home is here, and probably has been since my heart arrived in 1979.
It was always New York. Now that I'm a New Yorker and proud to be one, I have to coin the phrase ---"True love never dies."  And after all, any love that enduring deserves another chance.


Ecomanta said...

Tracey! You have done a wonderful job capturing some of New Yorks most unique moments - keep up the great work! If you have a chance check out my updated website.

Inson Wood said...

Awesome blog Tracey - can't wait for the next post. - Inson Wood

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