I visited New York in April of last year with the primary reason of visiting East Coast colleges. I fell in love with one of them, and for the next 10 months or so, put everything I had into being offered a place.
I didn’t get in.
I hinted at turbulent times in some of my blog posts, including The Waiting Game and Riding the Wave but I was too devastated to write about my rejection. I don’t want to go into it even now, despite having several months of processing. As someone who defines herself by high ambitions and determination, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. I understand that in the grand scheme of things, I’m incredibly lucky that this is my biggest problem. There are many people who face much more serious issues on a daily basis. But as one of my dear friends often reminds me, the hardest thing you’re dealing with in your world is still the hardest thing for you. It was my hardest thing and it hurt. A lot.
Four months later, I’m still not entirely over it but things are looking up.
I have two great universities in the UK, either of which, results permitting, will be a great next step for me. They have outstanding reputations and I know they’ll set me up for life. And importantly, my number one aspiration – of ultimately living and working in New York City – remains as strong as ever. I just need to find another path to get there.
I returned to New York a couple of weeks ago. The trip was a gift from my father to demonstrate to me that New York is still there. New York remains my goal and an attainable one. And my trip proved that and exceeded all of my expectations.
I talk a lot about my love for the city. I’ll go on with starry eyes about its energy, its passion, its drive; how each characteristic aligns with who I am and want to be. But during this most recent trip, I experienced more ‘New York magic’ than ever before.
One of my favourite artists today is Chloe Wise. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of art to see the Obsession exhibit which showed Klimt, Shiele and Picasso – whose work I have studied and admired – and who did I run into? Chloe Wise. I introduced myself and she was very gracious. It was charming to speak with her. What are the chances of meeting one of your favourite artists while looking at the exhibition of another group of your favourite artists?
Earlier this year I sought advice from a New York based writer/blogger who wrote back a considered and enormously helpful view of the world. I was invited to a fashion launch in New York and got to meet her face-to-face. It was wonderful and she was warm and friendly and it was great to be able to personally thank her. She introduced me to another girl the event who just happened to run the musical theatre society at the English university I am likely to attend. Once more, what are the chances?
I met many people with amazing stories, from the Harvard boy who lived uptown and was in the first ever graduating class in his high school to a waiter who lived through the Taliban in Afghanistan and came to the US via Iran and Russia.
I was walking through Times Square with my brother who was only in in town for 36 hours at midday. Fighting through the throngs of tourists, he bumped into one of his friends from university who he is performing with at Edinburgh Fringe in a couple of weeks. Jack probably only knew one person in the city of eight million people and they ran into each other in the busiest part of the city, at the busiest time of day. What are the chances?
I stayed in Soho and just wandering the streets downtown I recognised all sorts of people from theatre, film, Instagram. Every corner was a scene from a movie.
I arrived at JFK for my flight back to London feeling slightly down as though my magic was about to run out. As I approached the check-in desk, I glanced up and standing in front of me was one of my favourite actresses of all time. She looked at me and gave me a warm smile. I was immediately transported to the images of her in the teen drama I worshipped and grew up with. I smiled back. A small polite sign of recognition and another little piece of New York magic.
I know my perception of New York is almost surreal as I’ve only ever seen it through the lens of a holiday. I have never had to go to work on the subway in rush hour, never had to worry about paying the extortionate rent prices, never had to fit my own AC in Summer (which I’m told is every New Yorker’s ultimate struggle). But I feel at home there, like the best version of myself. And feeling that way on this most recent trip was a healing experience, and inspired me not to give up on my ultimate goal.
I’m waiting for my A-level results which is an anxious time for all of us but I know in my heart that whatever my next immediate step is, all is not lost. For now it is a comfort to me that New York is still on the horizon for me. Nothing has changed. I’ll have to play my cards right over the next few years in order to get there but I’m confident it will happen.
To New York City and to the future. For the first time in four months, it’s looking bright again.