We were heading towards a comedy club, or at least we hoped. Earlier that day a local approached us and sold us a couple of tickets for a gig. I was apprehensive at first but there's something about New York that makes me impulsive. After all, everyone else seemed so casual and at ease. Just one more reason why I keep returning to this inspiring city. As we walked to the club the smell of roasted peanuts and fried onions from the street stalls was thick in the humid air. My attention rested on a Latino-American guy running the stall, rushing to serve the sea of waiting faces. He was small in height with a thin build and his soft brown eyes looked tired with dark circles beneath. His forehead was creased with sweat as were his clothes but he didn't seem to mind any of these things. He looked perfectly content. I painted my own picture and thought perhaps he was from a deprived country and grateful to have a job in the big city. On the other hand maybe I was being naive and he was a local just getting by. New York is so big, anything is possible.
Walking away from the bright lights down a shady side street, I noticed a sign above a hidden doorway with two sturdy looking bouncers outside: our venue for the evening. We went down the dimly lit stairway into a basement-type room and I thought that such a place would be a great place for a horror movie. Considering the shabby surroundings, it turned out to be a really good show. It reminded me to never judge a book by its cover. I took a particular liking to one comedian; pale faced, bleached blonde hair and extremely camp. He was effortlessly funny and on a role until some drunk in the audience thought he would try and be the comic and threw some insulting comments his way. Of course, the comedian completely humiliated him but not in the humorous way I expected. He started telling us that his long term partner had been a victim to bowel cancer and on the day of his operation to remove the tumour there was an agonising wait for him to come round. When he finally woke up his first words were, “is it a boy or a girl?” We were astounded that after such a painful situation, this man was able to make a joke and the audience laughed off the tense atmosphere. He then concluded his story by saying, “if I can get through that awful time then you can throw whatever crap you want at me and it won't knock me down! I’m stronger than that.” With that, the whole crowd leapt up and applauded such a brave man.
I left the comedy club feeling inspired to never let the small things in life get me down. We decided to have a few more drinks and visit the bar opposite, a very confusing Scottish bar with an Irish barman wearing a kilt. Like true New Yorkers my dad and I were in the habit of sitting up at the bar and we got talking to the barman who told us about himself and how most tourists and locals presume he was actually Scottish as they can’t tell the accents apart. Chatting to him in such an electric atmosphere with the band playing in the background and the bar packed behind us was an amazing experience. The night couldn't possibly get any better but with that thought, a guy with dark hair and big brown eyes appeared next to me with a huge smile. He took my breath away with how handsome he was and when he introduced himself I was intrigued to chat to him. He had a southern American accent and told me he was from South Carolina, worked as a welder and played for a baseball team in his home town. The more we talked the more I enjoyed this aspect of New York; meeting new people and finding out about their lives and how we really are worlds apart. At the same time I was sad because living in a city like this is something I long for. Something so different from what I know.
I lay in bed that night with a mixture of emotions. I felt happy that I was in the place I loved the most but I was filled with dread at the thought of leaving the next day and returning back to normality. It had been a great evening and I was slightly annoyed with myself for feeling that way. Perhaps it was just alcohol flooding my mood but six months on I still feel the same. It truly was a night to remember.
Written by Michelle Turley.
Michelle's full profile can be found here.