When I was 16 I somehow persuaded my parents to allow (and pay for) me to go to New York for the summer. I would be staying with a friend who had lodged in our B&B years earlier when she was a student at Bath University. She now had an incredible apartment on the Upper East Side and she was at work every day so all I had to do with my time was explore.
I have never felt freer or cooler than I did that summer. I spent days wandering, wearing out my green DM boots, tossing my hair from side to side and chain-smoking Lucky Strikes. It was while smoking one of these Lucky Strikes, on the steps of The Met, that I met Willie, the homeless poet of New York. He offered to read me one of his poems for a dollar and give me a bright pink copy of it too… a pretty good deal for a dollar, I thought. But Willie didn’t just read me his poem on that sunny day outside The Met, he performed it, big and bold and ballsy, just for me, just for a dollar. Sadly I lost my pink copy years ago, though I can still remember how it went;
Let’s love one another
No matter what we be
Let’s love one another
And we’ll allow each other, to be free
Ok it might not be William Shakespeare but it was Willie, the homeless poet of New York and it epitomised the spirit of the city for me. At that moment, I was hooked. I had to find a way to be there by any means.
A few weeks later and I was back in Bath doing A-levels. It might have been the boys and the booze which distracted me from pursuing my dream, but I suspect it was more likely fear – everything else was just an excuse. The Tisch School of the Arts or an ex-poly in Yorkshire? Yep, I chose the safe and easy option.
I am not one for regrets however – hell, Edith said it best, “Je ne regrette rien” and it’s truly been a wonderful life thus far. Indeed, I suspect only now am I ready to squeeze everything out of this nearly 20 year old dream.
So, to the 5 point plan:
- Apply to do a Masters. This may also help with the second part of the dream, to be a writer. In fact, to come full circle, The Tisch School would be the perfect place. The only obstacle is of course cash. Could take another 5 years to save up. Time to look into scholarship options.
- Get a job. This week I will be emailing everybody I have ever met who might have any connection to New York to see if they can get me a job in my current field – watch out, it could be you!
- Go as a tourist for 3 months and just see what happens. This is an attractive option (mostly because it doesn’t involve working or studying) but of course it also involves cash and there is no guarantee that I will find a way to stay longer.
- Find an American husband. If you have read my previous blog A Soiled Romance you will know how utterly rubbish I’d be at doing this.
- Get immigration to allow me in on the basis that my Father, who was adopted, is certain that his biological father was an American stationed in Dublin, although we have absolutely no proof of this. (Apart from my Dad discovering through a DNA database he has a 3rd cousin in San Francisco – pretty cool huh?) But somehow I don’t think those friendly immigration officers will go for that.
Damn, 2 out of the 5 point action plan are non-starters but it’s still gonna be a busy week… in the meantime, with Willie’s words still ringing in my ears after 20 years I am going to heed them and get out there and spread some love . Namaste.