empire state of mind

Photo courtesy of www.manoftheworld.com.

Photo courtesy of www.manoftheworld.com.

As I sit waiting in the terminal with anxiousness and uncertainty before my first trip to The Big Apple, a few things come to mind.  Born and raised in Ohio, and having only lived in Cincinnati and Cleveland throughout my lifetime, I feel as if I am entering an entirely different world this afternoon.  The suburbs raised me, and honestly, I would love to raise my kids in a nice suburban neighborhood someday as well.  However, those days are years ahead of me (I think), and right now, I am just focused on the present.

I’d argue with anyone that your 20s is one of the weirdest, but greatest time periods of your entire life.  Sure, college was incredible, and I will never be able to replace those memories I had in Oxford, OH with all of my best friends.  However, those memories will always be there, and it is time to move on.  It’s been a year since I graduated from Miami University, and sometimes, I feel as if it never even happened.  Graduation day was a blur (alcohol didn’t help the situation), but the entire ceremony seemed to fly by before I could even comprehend what had just occurred.

Today, I enter the Mecca that is New York City.  The land of opportunity, ambition, hard work, success, and failure.  People from all over the world travel to this top destination to live out the American Dream, and often, come up short.  Sure, there are thousands, even millions, of success stories out there in the big city.  But, while some are lucky enough to live out their dreams, some barely make it out alive.  But, that’s life right?  The beautiful struggle.  The unknown. The uncertainty of it all.

Through all the trials and tribulations, failures and successes, heartbreak and love stories; there just seems to be a certain aura to the entire city of New York.  There is no other place like it, and I think that is it.  There is nothing like it.  That just sounds right when you say it aloud.  Try it.  There is nothing like it.  Whether it’s positive or negative, New York City defines an entire nation.  We all remember one of the darkest days in our nation’s history 11 years ago.  I get goosebumps even thinking about it, and I really had no idea what was going on at the time.  Our 6th grade teachers informed us that America had been attacked, but it just didn’t register like it would today.  I didn’t even really know where New York City was at the time.  I was unaware that many of my best college friends would be from the New York or Connecticut area, and many considered the city to be their second home.  Their parents worked in the city, they had friends who interned at various companies, or they remembered all memories they shared in the city growing up as a kid.  Regardless of the situation, the city truly meant something to them, and it has been cool to be apart of the whole thing.

Before enrolling at Miami University, I didn’t really know much about life in New York City, the geography and beauty of the New York and Connecticut areas, or really anything about the area.  I don’t think many of my friends knew much about the Midwest either, and that was the coolest thing in my opinion.  There’s an entire country at our fingertips, but yet, we are often only exposed to the areas in which we grow up and build our relationships, friendships, and memories along the way.  Sure, many families are fortunate enough to vacation (mine being one of them), but things are different when you are younger.  

You see the beach and think boogie boards, sandcastles, frisbees, and footballs; and often do not see the bigger picture.  As you begin to age, you start to truly see the differences and similarities between various neighborhoods and counties, streets and states, and rural and suburban areas.

So, today I bring you some music that has inspired me for my trip to NYC this morning.  When I think of The City That Never Sleeps, Gotham, The City of Dreams, The Big Apple, New York City, and The Empire State; I visualize Frank Sinatra and Biggy Smalls sitting down to share a bottle of expensive liquor and a few cigars together.  I imagine J. Cole waiting outside Jay-Z’s studio only to get rejected by Hov. I also imagine a city of lost dreams.  

A city where good ideas and intentions don’t see the light of day.  As Cole’s sophomore album quickly approaches, I can only think of the many themes behind Born Sinner.  Where there is beauty there is pain, and where there is light, there is darkness.  Although we try and keep it pretty positive and upbeat here, life is not always a happy, sunny picture.  Everyone goes through their struggles, and sometimes, these struggles may even change the outcomes of our lives.  Other times, these struggles can help form us into the person we want to be.

Recently, I watched the movie Cloud Atlas after waiting tables one night.  It was kind of a grueling night at the restaurant, and I needed to wind down.  So, I grabbed a couple cold ones, and purchased Cloud Atlas on my television.  It was a long one, running at 2 hours and 52 minutes, but it was worth it.  Adapted from the 2004 novel written by British author David Mitchell, this sci-fi film takes you on quite the journey for nearly 3 hours of film, special effects, underlying themes, and much more.  My mom told me that she tried to read the book, and ended up quitting after 100 pages.  There was a bunch of shit going on from the first scene, so I cannot even imagine what reading the book must have been like.

Maybe one day I will give it a try, but watching the movie was really all I needed.  The basic premise behind the film is that we all exist as different people throughout different periods of time.  What we do in the past, future, and present all has a direct effect on these different personalities and lives that we live.  Most importantly, the acts of kindness we commit will alter these lives for all eternity, and inspire revolution in the years to come.  Standing up for what you believe in, and not giving into the temptations of the Devil are all major themes in Cloud Atlas, and are depicted excellently in the film.  

Just like the temptations of The City that bring many to a life of crime and sin, the choices that we make effect not only those making the decision, but the lives of our significant others as well.  Hugo Weaving, who many may know as Agent Smith in The Matrix, depicts the Devil in the film, and completely nails the role.  Each actor in the film plays up to 5 different roles, while Weaving shows his true skills in this specific role.  It’s almost too believable, but it sets up for a great theme throughout the film and a character that I know I will never forget.  

So, if there is anything you should take from my post today, it is this: life is all about decisions.  I decided to buy a plane ticket to New York two months ago, and it was a little expensive for my budget at the time.  Two months later, I’ve made up for the costs, and could not be happier that I pulled the trigger.  I leave you this morning with some inspiring music that instantly brings New York City to mind with each listen.  I feel like I can hear the sounds of the city when I’m listening to these songs, and hell, I’ve never even heard them before.  This one is for the Empire State ladies and gentleman, I hope to see you there…