Pretending to look cool in Washington Square Park
It started, as most good stories do, with Eloise at the Plaza. Next came Friends followed swiftly by Gossip Girl and Sex and the City which I would watch under the covers late at night because I was most definitely too young for the Samantha scenes.
The obsession deepened as I got older. Once I got ill, TV, books and movies were pretty much my full time job, I watched every episode of How I Met your Mother, 30 Rock, Ugly Betty, Law and Order SVU and Wizards of Waverley Place. I watched When Harry Met Sally, then You’ve Got Mail, then I never ever stopped watching You’ve Got Mail because it was pretty much the only thing that made me happy. Me and my dad watched Manhattan while eating baked beans on boxing day, followed quickly by Annie Hall and Hannah and her Sisters. I’m not saying I had good taste (I genuinely love and have seen every episode of Wizards of Waverley Place) but my choice in entertainment definitely had a running theme, New York City.
It dominated my reading habits, I lusted over Breakfast at Tiffany’s, raced through Washington Square. Me and my brother read Catcher in the Rye on holiday but we only had one copy so every time I finished a page I had to rip it out of the book and hand it to him. I read A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Nanny Diaries, Watchmen and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. At 16 I read The Great Gatsby, then I read it again, then I read it sixteen more times. I was a walking, talking cliche but I didn’t care. I was obsessed.
On my 16th birthday my mum took me to New York for the first time. As we drove into Manhattan I started to cry, I hadn’t really believed this city existed, it was my Narnia, the place I went to in my bedroom when I was unhappy, but we were actually here. We had coffee and croissants outside Tiffany’s wearing plastic tiara’s, we went to central park zoo, we had tea at the plaza and we tried, in vain, to sneak onto the set of Gossip Girl. I was still in a wheelchair but this meant we got wheelchair seats to the extremely sold out first run of Book of Mormon and we followed that with a Chinese takeaway in our hotel room. I went home in a daze. It was all real and I had to go back.
When my physical pain got better at the age of 17 I found myself a bit stuck. Everyone else my age was halfway through their A levels. I tried to go back to school but then the depression hit and I dropped out again. As my friends left for university I was still sitting in my bedroom watching Friends, not really sure what was going to happen next. I had 4 GCSEs, no A levels and only one plan. I wanted to escape from London, this place where I’d been so unhappy, I wanted to move to New York.
So we made another trip, in preparation I watched Felicity, then Girls, then I watched every episode of Girls three more times just to make sure I was ready. We weren’t even going to visit NYU. I was still pretty fragile and everyone was sure I would never be able to handle such a huge university, let alone actually get in. But as we drove up to Washington Square Park I fell in love. It was everything I had ever dreamed of. Finally after years of flailing and failing I had a goal, New York University.
I arrived back in London and started working on my SAT’s (the American university entrance exam). My anxiety and depression were still pretty bad so I did most of the work in bed while crying and watching Youtube videos. But after missing the first two opportunities to take the exam because I was too nervous I made it to the last one and got through all 3 hours.
I applied to NYU with my four GCSE’s, two essays begging them to let me in, some references from old teachers and an incredible recommendation from an incredible friend. Yesterday I found out I got in.
I actually sort of found out in February which is when you’re meant to find out but my offer came with some conditions. They had liked my application but it had come to their attention that I hadn’t actually been to school since I was 14 so they wanted me to take an NYU course in London over the summer just to make sure I could actually read. I had to get a B if I wanted to get in and that’s what I’ve been doing over the past six weeks. At 4 in the morning last night I found out I got 2 A’s so in 18 days I leave for New York.
I know it’s not going to be like the movies. It’s going to be scary, and dirty, and I’m going to feel like I can’t get through it. But I’m going. After 5 years of cancelling things, dropping out of schools and sitting in my bedroom crying I’m finally leaving the house. I’m very scared. But I’m also very excited. And I’m excited about this blog being full of more things that just me baking cupcakes. Although my dorm does have an oven so late night baking is definitely still going to be an option.
I will keep you updated, and who knows, it might literally all be too much and I’ll be back in London after two weeks. But I’m going to try and make it work, and if that means I cry every day of the first month I’m okay with that, I cry most days anyway so I might as well do it from New York!
I hope you’re having a wonderful week.
Pretending to look studious outside NYU