Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of...

I am a sceptic. In life. In general. But recently I started thinking about a question that had once left me baffled.. yet lately it all of a sudden started making more sense. About 12 months ago... actually exactly 12 months ago my BFF and I went to New York. That NYC trip is basically the reason I am in London now.  Actually, that is not the beginning of the story. The story began when my friend R had come back from her trip to NYC. Listening to R, you would have thought she'd just gotten back from a spa retreat. She was rejuvenated, glowing and happier than I have seen her in months (may have been years actually!).

Anyway, so R was the one who put this NYC idea in our heads and which we, the BFF and I, duly acted upon. I do not know what it is about NYC but we too came back rejuvenated, glowing and ALIVE. 

NYC was like a breath of fresh air which not only made you feel alive but also breathed some new found confidence and sexiness into you (if I say so myself!). It gave you "the vibe", the unexplainable, intangible aura which made people want to know you and be with you. I dont know whether it was the old, beaten to death "love yourself before anyone else can love you" b.s. but IT WORKED! Of course like anything else, "the vibe" also eventually came to an end and both BFF and I went on with our normal Sydney lives (interestingly though, i might add that both R and BFF managed to ride the wave of the NYC vibe well and both secured not-too-shabby boyfriends before the potion ran out).

It was that trip that put the crazy 'i want to move to New York' idea in my head and I havent really stopped nurturing it ever since. Sadly, since about a million people were nurturing the same idea at the same time as me (and another million were just hoping they wont remain unemployed in that friggin city for longer than 6 months), I didnt quite make it to NYC and landed in London instead.

It is now that I start to wonder whether it is in fact the 'NYC' effect or just the 'any huge city' effect... So what is it that creates the effect? 

I have been thinking about it and came to a conclusion that it was a cocktail made up of:

1. well..good cocktails - any big city has places that serve superb cocktails at any hour of the day and/or night (this is silly but I had to put in there for good measure)

2. the number of people - so if you for a minute believe that every person has their own energy (or aura or whatever you want to call it) then surely 8 million people living together and mixing energies is enough to create WILD amounts of energy.. enough to share even with tourists..

3. competition - a lot of big cities (NYC, London and Moscow would definitely be the top of the list) seem to operate on a 'do or die' basis which is also known as 'make it or break it' principle. The huge number of people makes it so much harder to get noticed, to succeed, to survive. Competitiveness increases ten fold in a big city (personal experience) and affects all aspects of your life. It is harder to get noticed at work, so you work harder. It is harder to get noticed socially, so you dress better. It is harder to .. well even get on the tube so you work harder with your elbows. In a big city no matter how hard you try, there will always be someone better looking/smarter/funnier/wealthier/more successful/younger/ more VIP/[insert as appropriate] than you. So all there is left to do is to try your best and or at least die trying (and knowing that you did all you could). 

4. money - of course one of the easiest ways to get noticed (if you can afford it) is to have a lot of money and not to be scared to throw it around. When I first saw a 3L bottle of Belvedere being carried through a nightclub with a fire-cracker-candle thingy attached to it, I innocently asked if it was someone's birthday. The person I was talking to looked at me as if I was from a different planet. Turns out people just like to show-off about the fact that they can afford a 3L bottle of vodka (which costs triple in a nightclub and if you are really lucky still being charged to the corporate amex .. but we wont tell anyone about that). The thing is, this city smells of money. I cannot find another way to describe it - I can smell money (the scent is stronger in certain parts of Mayfair and around Harrods). I know how bad it sounds but it's the honest truth. I can smell money and smelling it makes me want to have more of it so I buy a lottery ticket and work harder hoping that at least one of them will get me there. And so we are back at the increased competitiveness point (see I told you they are all connected).

5. sex - well clearly, money and competitive spirit wont make you sexy. But a lot of sex is likely to make you at least a little bit sexier even if it's not you having it. Just like New York, sex is everywhere in London. In fact, its on steroids here compared to Sydney. People are generally more promiscuous, because being in a big city means you can get away with more stuff unnoticed. But even if you get noticed, most people dont mind and in fact welcome it (see point 3 above). From books, to streets, to shops, to people everyone is embracing their sexuality. When I read Belle de Jour's diary I felt like I was back in primary school and had no idea about life. When I walked into a s*x shop in Soho (i was shopping for a fancy dress party - promise) I felt like I was back in primary school and had no idea about life (or the number of different types of whips invented to date). When I went to an out-of-town birthday party with a bunch of Londoners (or at least people who lived here long enough so that the others dont remember where they are originally from) I felt like.. well you know the drill. The point is, that there is only that long that you can resist it before your skirts too start getting shorter.

6. change - there is always something going on. There are people coming and going, shows changing, exhibitions opening, tubes striking, governments changing, films premiering and catwalks walking. Although you may not be getting involved in the drama of it all, you cant help but notice the buzz happening around you at million miles an hour. I guess as the city evolves and you evolve with it. 

In a city, be it New York or London, where you can get anything, anywhere, at any time (unless it's telephone, gas or any other municipal necessity) you seem to always still want more. The abundance of life makes you binge on it. 

One thing you cannot do in a big city - is be scared. They smell fear. Avoid the 'deer in the headlights' situation at any cost. Because it will be noticed. And it will be commented on (heard this first hand.. shallow you say? yeah, but still not pretty).  

New York... concrete jungle where dreams are made of

There's nothin' you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let's hear it for New York... New York...
New York


the nyanzi report said...

Excellent writing. Great observation.
The city's where it's at.

"Welcome to the bright lights baby."

PinkBow said...

interesting post...very insightful. i love nyc, i had big dreams of moving there. so i so admire our move to another city & country

Anonymous said...

Better late than never with this comment.
Competition yes! Big fact YES in London. But according to family, friends, acquaintances who have crossed the pond to the big NYC, there's a little more love and risk taking there.
London can feel really empty and full of aimless drifters sometimes.
Then again if I packed up and left, I would probably miss the buzz, the drunken stupor, the random arguments on tubes and midnight buses.
Good ol' London.