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Melissa and NYC: It's Complicated

Me and NYC: It’s Complicated

September 10, 2017 Comments Off on Me and NYC: It’s Complicated

Me and NYC. Relationship Status: It’s Complicated.

In the beginning…

New York City was Miss Piggy being glamorous in The Muppets Take Manhattan, teenagers dancing, singing and acting all over the place in Fame, and where the Bosom Buddies lived. I still love the Bosom Buddy theme song, “My Life” by Billy Joel.

When I was 5, I ordered New York Strip steaks, because anything with the words New York in it was good. I was hopelessly devoted to the Big Apple. For reasons that could fill a book, I even ran away to New York City when I was 16. Greyhound buses and the brand new internet helped me do it. I was on Prodigy, using a dial-up modem. That’s how long ago it was.


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I did what? Yes, I ran away to NYC

At the time, I was reading books like The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson, and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Sixties sub-cultures fascinated me. There is a difference between hippies and radicals, in case you didn’t know. James Dean and Jim Morrison were my idols. I carried around Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. It was hard to admit to friends that I just couldn’t get beyond the first 20 pages. When I was in my 30s, I managed to read it in it entirety. I read Dharma Bums. The latter is a better book, if you want my honest opinion.

When I was 16, I smoked pot on lunch breaks riding around in a car with people I could never really consider friends. They were so cool. I was not. Most of the time, I was a theater nerd. When in a show, I didn’t get stoned. The potential wrath of directors was far more terrifying than my parents. My jeans and t-shirts were baggy. My hair was a mop of frizzy curls. Breakouts erupted on a regular schedule throughout my t-zone.

If I could’ve read my way to beautiful, I would have. The truth was, I liked spending my money on books more than beauty. Oh the pleasure of a great book and a bag of Sugar Babies.

On my way to NYC, I told adults that my name was Addie, short for Adelaide. She’s a character in Guys and Dolls that I love. She sings about having a psychosomatic condition and is in love with Sinatra’s character. I used to stay up so late watching that movie, drinking Mountain Dew, and eating cheese and white Minute Made rice that I cooked up in the microwave with butter. When asked for more than my name, I said I was on Spring Break from college and on my way to visit a friend.

When NYC and I met…

In Penn Station, a recovering coke addict who was going to Tennessee to be with family bought me a bag of chips, because I looked hungry. I was. He and this Puerto Rican gun runner talked about Jimmy Hoffa and how the justice system is about money. My chip-buyer told me how he had gone a couple of days without sleeping and had woken up in some car parked somewhere unfamiliar and that’s how he knew it was time to go home and get cleaned up.

Street Smart Advice I was given:

  • Keep your back to walls if you’re sitting around alone. It’s easier to attack or mug someone from behind.
  • Stick to crowds.
  • If someone asks, “Want some?” Don’t stop. Don’t ask any questions. Keep walking.

My mom’s friend Barb lived in Manhattan and was working on Wall Street. I was lucky. She took me in for a few days and my parents flew out to bring me home. At the time, I wanted to stay and work in a restaurant while pursuing my dream of being an actress. Maybe it would have worked. Maybe not. It’s hard to know the outcomes of lives not lived.

Barb and I toured NBC studios. I ended up in an elevator with Conan O’Brien. His show Late Night was in its second season. I remember rollerbladers passing us by doing dance inspired moves, when Barb and I walked through Central Park. Portions at the diners we went to seemed massive. Noise never stopped.

I thought I’d be back soon…

When I was 18, one of my instructors at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis thought I should audition for Juilliard. It’s the most prestigious performing arts college in the country. He had gone there and thought I had what it took to get in. There were other acting schools I looked at and considered auditioning for. I would fill out parts of applications, but never sent any in. I moved to Minneapolis for a month and then moved back home. Fears mounted within me about big cities and most everything else.

Despite the ballsy (and perhaps stupid) decision to run away, I’ve been susceptible to fear much of my life. At parades, an uncle used to bribe with a dollar if I’d stay at the curb with my cousins when motorcycles or the Chinese dragon would march by. Even after he gave me the dollar, I would often run and hide beneath the porch of a house behind us. During storms, my mom would tell me that the angels were bowling (thunder) or taking pictures of me (lightening).

Melissa in Chelsea Market with her laptop and a cup of coffee

Writing in Chelsea Market on a Sunday Morning

Reunited

Now, I’m a writer, marketer, and actor visiting New York City on a dream trip. Nora Ephron and Joan Didion are people I admire. I don’t smoke anything. I workout and eat well. No more Mountain Dew, Sugar Babies, or cheese and rice. I get my hair blow combed at least once a week. My skin has settled down. I wear clothes that are flattering and high heels as often as I can. Walking 20 blocks or more is best done in flats. Pain is a fast teacher.

This is my third time in NYC in three years. During the first trip I was mostly in Brooklyn, setting up and tearing down a 5K that involved throwing glow in the dark neon paint at people. There wasn’t time to enjoy any of the city, just work. Then in July 2017, I visited the big city with my boyfriend, Chris, and his children. This time, I’m here to work hard and play hard.

I’ve visited MoMA. Chris and I went to our first Broadway Show, 1984. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with our friend Jason. We’ve been  exploring food across the city. On Monday, I’m going to fashion shows. On Tuesday, I’m going to a Rent The Runway Sample Sale. It’s a mix of work and play that makes my past self thoroughly delighted with how I turned out.

Today, I walked to Chelsea Market from Kimpton Eventi, a classy hotel a block off from 5th Avenue and within walking distance to everything I’ve always wanted to do in NYC. I’m writing this blog and drinking coffee black with a little sugar. Chelsea Market is a charming food hall in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan. I’m here to be inspired (It’s tough work being a blogger and OMG a pair of the cutest shoes just went clicking by me – black shoes with chunky silver heels that appear to have a hole cut out of the center of them), shop, and eat.

Do I love NYC? Yeah, sure. It’s a great place with lots to see and do and eat. People here are as nice as they are anywhere. Do I love it more than anyplace in the world? It’s complicated.

September 14, 2017

mmcnallan

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