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  • Jennifer

...Big City Girl (excerpt 3 from "this is not a memoir")

I am "starting" this new year by "finishing" with my third installment from my newly completed book called "this is not a memoir." I am thrilled to share it with you. It's a snippet taken from chapter 10 of this 21-chapter book. This book focuses on the comedic misadventures and triumphs of a "forty-year-old spinster writer." (Guess who?) I am on a fun (hopefully fun!) mission to get this book published. P.S. Before reading the below post, you may want to refer to the two earlier Big City Girl posts. They will get you caught up on this chapter. Just look for the Lincoln Center fountain photo!

chapter 10 - b.c.g.

I, of course, did leave the city limits. After all, I wasn’t a full-fledged adult just yet. I went home for family birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases, etc. I actually grew to love my hometown even more, now that I was away and happy most of the time. I think if I had stayed in my hometown any longer, or had gone to a more local college, it would’ve caught up to me. I was someone who “needed” to get away. If I was going to grow, being away from Connecticut was crucial for me. Maybe another city would’ve been good for me, too. Hmmm. Maybe Boston? I might’ve been okay there. Still, I think New York offered me what Boston couldn’t – maturity. You were independent and had more opportunities in New York. In Boston (and I went to Boston on occasion to visit friends who were studying there), you were coddled more. I seemed to see that, and my Boston friends used to tell me. After all, Boston is often called a “college town.” Not so New York City. Whereas Boston could be a logical extension of a suburban high school experience, New York City thrust you RIGHT INTO the raw grit of finding yourself, being as independent as possible, and accepting others from all walks of life. You learned about yourself, but also to be tolerant, patient, and respectful of others. You learned “acceptance.” This mammoth, behemoth city required it. Though New York is home to a large, comparatively huge amount of higher education institutions, it’s not known for being predominantly a “college town.” It’s a college town, plus global finance hub, plus global publishing hub, plus global government hub, plus global fashion hub. The list goes on. As for me, I welcomed that challenge of “acceptance.” I gladly learned to accept myself and others. Again, it tapped into a part of me that, thus far, I hadn’t had much experience with – yet I always felt was within me. I had a deep love for the world at large, and getting to know people, and learn about them, and build bridges between different cultures. I was an “ambivert.” What??? I was part extrovert, and part introvert. I could be that way, unashamedly, in New York. And I loved that. I could be scrunched up alone on my bed for hours writing one single poem, or maybe reading a poem by famous Mexican writer Octavio Paz, and no one around me would blink. This mad lit girl isn’t mad at all. She’s simply doing her thing! I could then get up, hop into some black heels, a brown dress (then my “crushed” velvet leopard-print scarf) and cab it over to the restaurant for drinks with a hugely diverse set of friends. (It was undoubtedly a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” martini-lounge party of sorts. No beer keg here.) It was “all good” in New York City. I felt that I was among people who, even if they might not have understood or liked my art, my writing, my major, they understood and loved ME. They appreciated me for who I was – and I appreciated them. I’m speaking of my roommates, my friends, professors who I was friendly with, and classmate acquaintances. It was a “lovely” feeling (to use a nice Upper West Side word). And as for a significant other? If I was dating someone – great. If I was single – just as great. You weren’t judged on being a virgin or an avid dater. Nor were you judged on being straight or gay, or dating outside your race or religion. It was all about acceptance, learning, and appreciation. It was beautiful, folks, just beautiful.

In my apartment alone, I was surrounded by fellow writers, actresses, documentary filmmakers, singers, and fashion models. All of us girls had our own unique artistic interests, and we were all thrilled to be living in New York City. We were like contented Cheshire cats, grinning it up even in our sleep. We were also ever-prepared for an impromptu role-playing session. In fact, it was commonplace to come home from class and ask a fellow roommate, “What are those two doing in the kitchen?” This roommate would then say very casually about our other roommates – “Oh, they’re role-playing.” As if reenacting Elizabeth Taylor’s drunken meltdown scene in the 1966 film “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” was the most normal thing to come home to on a Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 in the year 1997. What??? “And they’re cooking mac and cheese at the same time?” TALENT. What’s more, going to college in New York meant “easy access” to free tickets. We girls were regularly given free theater, opera, ballet, and even Barbra Streisand female impersonator tickets (Steven Brinberg!) from our college events office. Talk about becoming cultured. I became an Encyclopedia Galactica of my very own arts & culture universe. New York City was my universe. But instead of a blinding love with that mammoth sun shining too brightly, it was a perfect love – a perfect shade of me. I love the person I became in New York City. You know how some people have that knack of bringing out the best in you, putting you in your best light? New York City was that for me. I looked good walking down a New York City sidewalk. Even better – I often felt good, too. I turned nineteen the summer after my freshman year. That July, one of my older sisters gave me a birthday card whose envelope said – “B.C.G.” I looked at her, puzzled. She said, “You’re my Big City Girl.” I hugged her. I will always be her “Big City Girl.” I will always love New York City. Oh, and this IS officially alphabet soup.

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