People stalked by in droves as we stood there, two very unhappy teenagers and three exhausted adults. My uncle and aunt, at eighty years young stood on the edge of the sidewalk, trying desperately to hail a cab. Nothing compared to walking around New York City; even the air smelled unique. Apparently, my aunt and uncle felt differently. Lauren, my younger sister, rolled her eyes at me as cars zoomed past and locals shoved by. A cab stopped abruptly in front of us and brought me out of the slow-motion daze I’d been in. All at once I felt the invigorating rush of the city resume, felt someone grab my arm and pull me forward. I took a dive into the back seat of the gaudy yellow car, headfirst, yanking Lauren in after me. Looking out the window as a bead of sweat formed on my brow, I saw my uncle with his hands on his wife’s bottom, trying desperately to pack her round shape into the car. With one final push she was in securely, and he climbed in behind her. The driver turned around, counted, and shook his head saying in broken English, “I take only four. Not five.”
Despite my uncle’s attempts at bribery, the man refused to take us the ten blocks. We tumbled out onto the pavement. Lauren and I took a quick glance at each other and started laughing. The two of us were sweating, the humidity had taken hold of our hair, and there we stood — in the middle of Times Square, two of the biggest tourists that had ever entered New York City.
It took three attempts to bribe three different cabbies, but uncle Joe finally got the message. By this time, Lauren and I looked half-crazed and more than a little cranky. Uncle Joe decided that he and my aunt would ride to the theater and my sister, mom, and I would walk. Three naive females from Florida would walk the ten city blocks to the St. James theater. Fear clutched me as I glanced around. Any one of these strangers could mug us within seconds. The odds of getting lost were infinite. Then I realized at the end of those ten blocks lay my dream — Patti LuPone starring as Mamma Rose in Gypsy. There was no way I wasn’t going to make it there. With new determination I went forth into the sea of faces and lights and buildings. And I loved it.
At the end of the night, clutching my autographed playbill and skipping through the streets, we arrived back in Times Square. I looked up. Buildings towered on either side of me, the lights twinkled merrily down at me as if they were flaunting their neon colors. Even the lights themselves knew how special the place was. At that moment I decided that I wanted to live in New York City. I wanted to integrate into the swarms of people, I wanted to walk the streets without fearing everyone, I wanted to look up every night and see the buildings sparkling and shinning as though they were made of stars.
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