I realized yesterday that, while I spent the whole of last week (seriously, was it really only a week ago??) in NYC, I never really wrote about the experiences there. Holy crap, what a city.
My friend Renee and I arrived into NYC (both by bus – shout out to the 17 year old on my bus who spent the entire journey educating me more on the political system of America, and the different candidates; including someone I’d never previously heard of: Bernie Sanders), on the Sunday afternoon to try our first hand at Couchsurfing. I had originally contacted a number of hosts in the city, but the place that got back to us was just outside the city really, in New Jersey (no, I didn’t realize that it was actually a different state at the time, but no matter – it worked out in the end).
Anyway, Renee didn’t have much of an idea about what we were getting into, but trusted me enough to know that I had her back either way. This didn’t, however, prevent either of us from creating fictional ideas in our head as to what our hosts for the night would be like. “What if we ended up staying in the slums?”, “what if they were actually going to mug us?”, “what if we ended up staying with some kind of drug cartel?”.
We needn’t have worried about that – we arrived at a ridiculously fancy three story home, decked out with a spa pool, a fire pit, an in house gym, a movie theatre room, a wine fridge, a regular TV room (where the television was bigger than the bed I’m currently sleeping in), two goats, three dogs, two cats, a pig, and a gun room. Hold up, what? Yes. A gun room. Complete with a variety of guns and tasers. I’d never previously seen a gun before; let alone actually HOLD (an unloaded) one.
It was an experience.
To be honest, the rest of the week was a bit of a blur of excitement, activity, and endless fucking subways. The New York transport system is mindboggling; efficient, for the most part, but only if you actually know the city. In saying that, we managed to visit the Hard Rock Cafe on our first day, as well as find ourselves some tickets to a Comedy Club (which we would use at a later date). We made our way over to Central Park, where we wandered, watch street performances and marveled at two gymnast-type performers who did flips, tricks and were generally super nice people. They even had a photo with me (and no, I was not planning on being picked up in the photo… he later asked for my phone number too *sigh*.
Our first night with Erin was pretty chill; we chatted, had some food, and hung out until bed time – Erin had to go to uni/college/school the next day. So we hitched a ride with her into Brooklyn and decided to check the place out. I also decided to do a bit of busking myself, and while that was enjoyable… there are some STRANGE characters if you look close enough. He was harmless enough, but again I was pursued by a bizarre dude who worked at a smoke shop. We bid him farewell, and headed back to Erin, for a bit of dinner at a funky African food style place. The workers were enamored by Renee’s and my accent, and were incredibly friendly. Far more friendly than I’m used to. Our waitress even gave us a hug as we left…
We then made our way to Queens.
We ordered our drinks (which came with a free shot) and started to dance. It all starts with the dancing – people seem to gravitate towards dancers. We were told we looked like we were having the most fun; which we probably were. Dancing, laughing, telling jokes… then a few more drinks… safe to say, my head was not feeling happy the next day.
And the adventures continued.
We went to Manhattan, where we walked around and marveled at how big, and busy everything was. We walked past a huge crowd of people, so (being me) I asked Renee if she wanted to join the line. Turns out they were lining up to see the filming of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which was a free show. The catch, however, was that you needed to book your tickets ahead of time online. Feeling a bit bummed, we realized we wouldn’t be able to attend, but lo and behold, the guy standing behind us had free tickets! Hoorah! And who else was Stephen Colbert interviewing but Bernie Sanders.
So THAT happened. I know, it sounds like a bit of a silly plot, but no matter.
Our last night was spent in Brooklyn again, hanging out with my friend Will, who I met several years ago when my band Static Era toured New Zealand with HIS band Sinclarity. Super nice guy. So we hung out with him for a bit, then went off to have dinner with a long lost second cousin, whom I hadn’t seen for around 20 years, in Hells Kitchen. In my naivete, I only thought that was a restaurant, but turns out it’s actually a suburb on NYC. Who knew? (Rhetorical question; I’m sure heaps of people knew haha).
And that was pretty much our week! Highlights (or memorable bits…) also included Washington Park, where we met Brandon from The Strangers Project, where he collects stories from people around the country (they write and submit their stories anonymously), and publishes new stories every week. He’s also come out with a book, presenting a number of submissions in hardback. It’s a pretty incredible book, and some of the stories are absolutely astonishing. Really beautiful, thought-provoking, honest and (sometimes) funny. Check it out if you have some time. Renee also made a bet that I would be offered a phone number at least once a day from some random dude who took a liking… she wasn’t wrong.
So why is this blog called “Validate Me”? Because one thing that really did stick out for me during last weeks expedition, was how much everyone was dying to be seen / stand out / be considered special. The phone numbers collected, the way I watched people interacting with each other, the way people interacted with me, or just the looks on people’s faces as they rushed through their day… you can have all the adventure in the world, but it seems one thing doesn’t ever seem to change.
People want to be loved. Noticed. Acknowledged. Validated.
And it’s obvious; even if you just look at the surface. With apps like Tinder on the rise, which – let’s be honest – is almost just a “Like Me if I’m Hot” kind of app, everyone is craving for something.
I guess that’s one of the things that New York city thrives on. ANYTHING seems possible in that city.
I’m looking forward to going back, and possibly even looking at living there, but all I want to have seen is my music. Rock on.