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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Friday
Jan062006

Manhattan Myth



Admit it. If you've never been to New York City but you're the kind of gal who reads Bridget Jones Diary and other books of the chic lit variety, you totally think living in Manhattan is like an episode from Sex And The City. And if you live in NYC and you STILL think that then we can't be friends. Sorry. I know you had your hopes up and all, I AM a scarily fascinating twenty-something on the fast track.. The question you should be asking yourself is "the fast track to what...?"

The reality is that those four women, the ones relegated to G-rated reruns on TBS, are probably the most ambitiously shallow ladies on the planet. As hollow as the tin man - before he made it to Oz.

Disappointed? Hoping to hang with Mary Kate and Ashley at Butter?... perhaps share a flute of Kristal with Paris in the VIP section at Bungalow 8? That reality can be found I s'pose but the kicker is, it ain't reality.

That faux reality is as far from my existence as the conflict in the Middle East. I read Page Six for juicy tidbits leaking out about Brad and Angelina in the same way I scan the Times for the latest horrifying statistics exploding out of Iraq, but neither affect my daily life.

Which brings me to my point... The Manhattan Myth. New York is amazing, but not because you can club with celebrities or spend half a paycheck on the latest Jimmy Choos at the boutique a block from your house or make it to the big time in whatever you consider to be the big time.

New York has a heart beat you can hear, she sighs air you can taste. Like the fish nets of a hooker, New York's sidewalks and subways lure you to different destinations where new adventures await. The veins of the city, world famous streets like Broadway and Fifth Avenue, pump you inevitably from the bowels of downtown, through the loins of times square to the heart... Central Park.

It takes a special kind of person to set their sights on moving to the Big Apple and not just talk about it abstractly, like say, that African safari you hope to take one day.. You have to thirst for a drink of her cloudy waters, hunger for a bite of street vendor hot dog.. long to stand in the dirty blast of an arriving subway as it clutches at your hair, wrestles with your skirt because, well, just because it's The New York Subway..

Then comes that day, when you finally figure out which train car to stand on so you can get off right at the turnstyle of your stop. You hug yourself and giggle a little because YOU ARE MAKING IT! You've figured out the subway system and really, isn't that half the battle?

You gotta have soul and more than a little moxie to strap on that parachute as best you can and fling yourself from the plane. To move to NEW YORK CITY and walk in the herculean shadow Lady Liberty casts on the world, to tread in the footsteps of the billions of others who came before.

Photos Courtesy of Stephanie Klein

Reader Comments (12)

NYC is a high school cafeteria where you never have to worry about sitting at a table alone.

Do you read Colson Whitehead? Try "A Colossus of NY"
January 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPLD
Amen. I loved this post.
January 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteramanda b
When I was little, I always wanted to move to NY because visiting with my parents meant staying in nice hotels and having everything handed to me. Then when looking at colleges, I was faced with the reality of a really expensive apartment that would cost $4,000 a month and no room service. Let's just say NY is a completely different place when there is no one there to fancy your every whim or pay for stuff. Anyway, good post.
January 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHeather B.
Yo-yo-yo.

New York is a pitbull who desperately wants to tear your neck agash after you offer him a chunk of your Pupperoni in an act of urban goodwill.

Also, email me off line if you wanna get inta Butter. Me knows peeps.

m
January 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMax
Hell yes, woman! And don't forget the finger-lickin' good pizza.
January 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWry Bri
Growing up in Philly, I always felt like a country hick going to NYC... It SCARES me!

January 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChuebe
Haha! suckerz.
January 6, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer
you totally get it. sometimes it's nice to pretend though, isn't it?

i loved this post.
January 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjoey
I never did get the chick lit thing. I actually imagine I would get it if I thought that the kind of life that Ms Jones lived was somehow real. Aaaah.....ggh. Maybe it is -- but I just can't imagine living it myself. Not in this world or the next. I've seen the movie, but I can't imagine that if that was my life, I would write about it....I'd still be waiting for something more momentous to happen!!

Superficial sex chicks -- those I can imagine..not least because life give us actual examples in the form of houses of prostitution, etc.

So, why not?

Are they exciting though?

Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyee.
January 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjenny
I had such a fantasy of NY growing up, I used to think I could see the top of the Empire State Building from the window of our living room, because it was the tallest building in the world. Never mind that this living room faced due south and I was west of Manhattan... in Wisconsin.

I love the city and it scares me and even though I live a lot closer I don't go there very often. When I do I find that, for any of a dozen different reasons, when I leave my hotel room in the morning to face the day, I always have to retreat back to my room and start out again, like a stuttering start out of the gate.

I insisted we honeymoon in New York, another scary time, seeing as how I had only known my husband for a few months before we rushed to the judge one Friday morning (I wore the most godawful plaid dress, yes, I said plaid wedding dress!), then went to see "Alien" since it had opened that day, and that night flew to NY from Minneapolis, where our hotel had twin beds, it rained the entire time, my husband hated the city, we had a miserable time. But the marriage survived -- it could really only improve, quite frankly. (The plaid wedding dress did not survive, thankfully.)


janet, master of the run-on sentence, apparently
January 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjls
Monica, great piece of writing!

Love this: "New York has a heart beat you can hear, she sighs air you can taste. Like the fish nets of a hooker, New York's sidewalks and subways lure you to different destinations where new adventures await. The veins of the city, world famous streets like Broadway and Fifth Avenue, pump you inevitably from the bowels of downtown, through the loins of times square to the heart... Central Park."
February 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStFarmer
Thank you my good man! Am blushing and slobbering because I so adore a good compliment :)
February 8, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

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