On the way home from a work dinner yesterday, I discovered that there comes a point in a young woman's life where nights, real nights, look like this.
Nights where you find yourself stepping lightly into a shiny towncar at 51st and 7th, handing the driver your ticket and confidently spouting directions. As you sink into the warm leather, eyes bright and cheeks rosy from a night of feasting and toasting with colleagues, now called friends, you close your eyes and the car pulls away, off into the darkness of the greatest city in the world.
A moment later, you open your eyes to the traffic surrounding Radio City Music Hall. Outside, Broadway bustles, but the inside of the car is still and you're enveloped by an achingly soulful rendition of Silent Night. Performed by a lone street artist with a saxophone and a hat full of dollar bills, the carol has never sounded quite like that before.
You look up again the next time the car slows and realize you're stopped at Rockefeller Plaza. The sparkling Christmas tree towers over hoardes of people, laughing and snapping pictures, taking in the season. Skaters swirl in drones on the infamous ice rink below. How bizarre, to watch the cacauphony of New York City from the silence of a box, like a Christmas movie on mute.
The car picks up speed and you fly downtown on Park Avenue - the Palace, the Waldorf-Astoria, Grand Central Station. Midtown melts into NoLita, SoHo, and Chinatown in the blink of an eye, and suddenly you're floating above the city, the glittering metropolis growing smaller and smaller behind you.
On the other side of the bridge, a tiny gray building is nestled in a small, quiet neighborhood next to the river. Inside the building is a cozy apartment where a burly gentleman waits with a small gray cat, a knight in shining plaid armor who fiercely loves your very guts. A gentleman you love more than you knew you could.
Sitting in the silence of a warm towncar headed home on the Manhattan bridge, your eyes well up as you realize that just like that, you're a New Yorker with a burgeoning career and a blossoming love story.
Just like that, your life story is about a girl who got everything she ever wanted.
The tears start to fall as you realize that for the first time in your life, at the quiet end of a long, terrifying, leap-before-you-look sort of year, you have no idea what's next. And for the first time in your life, you're content with not knowing.
And then you brush that shit off before the driver can see. New Yorkers don't cry.