I'm standing shoulder to shoulder on a narrow stretch of pavement on 28th Street, heading west toward the Hudson River. I, and what feels like a bajillion other people, are slowly trying to make our way down to the West Side Highway to find a spot perfect for viewing NYC’s famous fireworks.
Our efforts are futile.
At this point, all I can think about is the tiny drop of sweat slowly tracing its path down my back, and the cakey feel of my once perfectly applied makeup. The guy next to me is whispering obscenities, and I am half a second away from screaming some myself.
The chant that I repeat to myself to keep my legs moving forward is “this is going to be worth it. I am going to have a kickass time watching some kickass fireworks with my kickass friends.”
I keep my eye on Bryan who is just ahead of me with my roommate Kayla and her boyfriend. The rest of our group--Katie, Kristin and Em--are just behind me. Thankfully Bryan is a good 6 inches taller than everyone else around us. At least I won’t get lost.
The sun is setting, making the street glow a pale sherbet orange—it would be beautiful if I wasn’t so frustrated by being herded down the street like cattle. I just can’t quite grasp the “safety” of having so many people packed into such a small space. It doesn’t make sense, but what do I know about crowd control?
Bryan quickly turns around and waves at me to turn around too. I’m on the verge of having a panic attack and the thought of wading back through the sea of people continuously streaming onto 28th just sounds torturous. I stand still scrunching my shoulders to bring my arms as close to my side to avoid making contact with anyone around me as the group makes their way back.
Apparently, once you get to the end of the street, there's nowhere else to go. The effort to find the perfect fireworks spot along the river was squandered.
Once back onto 11th Ave, we meander a little farther north in a last ditch effort to find a viewing spot. Just past 30th is a bridge that overlooks the river and some boating docks. People are milling about and sitting down, but there's plenty of room to move and finally breathe. Exasperated and tired, we decide to settle.
And once again, fate has a funny way of getting us exactly where we need to be. We're dead center for the spectacular fireworks display that apparently Usher had directed and chosen the music for.
|Left to right: Katie, Kristin, Zak, Bryan, Kayla, Em & I|
waiting for the fireworks to start.
We're so close to where they're sending the fireworks off that every burst of sparkling color feels like it's showering down on us. Bright flashes of iridescent emeralds, sapphires, rubies and silvers dance in the night sky before us, accompanied by the timpani of their boisterous booms that shake the ground. The crowd, including me and my friends, “ooh” and “ahh” and clap with joy at each new round of explosions.
The entire time, I can't help but think of my girl Katy Perry’s song, “Firework.” Well not just because of the obvious, but because of the larger significance and how it applies to so many aspects of my life here in New York.
Let me break it down for you:
"Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind, wanting to start again? Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin, like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?"
Why yes KP, thanks for asking!
The first few weeks here in NYC were overwhelming. The hustle and bustle of the busy streets, getting adjusted to working full-time, learning the ins and outs of Good Housekeeping and all of its editors--it's easy for a midwest girl like myself to feel like the whirlwind of this new life was going to carry me away. One breeze too strong, and I'd be gone.
"You don't have to feel like a waste of space, you're original, cannot be replaced. If you only knew what the future holds, after a hurricane comes a rainbow. Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed, so you could open one that leads you to the perfect road. Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow and when it's time, you'll know."
I don't mean to get all sentimental, but I can't help it.
I've never felt like a waste of space in my time here, nor have I doubted that this is what I want to do and where I want to be. But there is always the lingering question of how do I make myself stand out? What is my niche? Where do I belong? Where am I going to be in a year, five years or 10?
And I think KP hits it right on the spot.
I can't predict the future, and I can't try to guess where I will be led, but I do know that right now is the time to take the steps toward my dreams and develop the unique "Andrea" that I am destined to become.
And obviously the doors aren't closed for me at all. There is an entire row of them numbered like in a game show, and I just have to go through each one until I find the prize.
If there's one thing that I have learned so far, it's that I am going to have a lot of hoops to jump through, and I am probably going to have five different jobs the first few years, but it's going to lead me right where I need to be.
So as my time here in NY is slowly coming to an end (I hate thinking about that), I am going to remind myself of KP's advice:
"You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine. Just own the night like the 4th of July. 'Cause baby, you're a firework. Come on, show 'em what you're worth. Make me go, oh, oh, oh, as you shoot across the sky. Baby you're a firework, come on let your colors burst. Make 'em go oh, oh, oh, you're gonna leave 'em falling down."
By Andrea Baumgartner, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Good Housekeeping
Edited By Caroline Hatano, Boston University, Food & Wine