As we drove in from J.F.K airport I was in awe looking at the familiar New York skyline from my much loved TV-set back home and episodes of “Friends”. As soon as I stepped out of the cab in the middle of Manhattan I could hear the beat and the buzz of the atmosphere.
Although I was alone in an unknown city, in the spirit of the Irish I certainly was not. On that first night I sat back and talked of home and the summer to come with the bartenders in an Irish bar.
From the dramas to the sitcoms, New York has always come across as a fun, bubbly outgoing city where anything is possible. That is certainly the impression I got from my first night and day in New York. I can see now why it is known as ‘the city that never sleeps’.
Jet-lagged and over-tired I awoke in the morning to the sounds of the workers below the window just starting the day. I found it impossible to get to sleep with the heat and noise yet spent my morning looking out the window at the sense of possibility and spent the rest of the day wide awake.
It is true the steam really rises from the streets in the early hours of the morning and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the joint performance of Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin in the 1949 MGM musical film “On the Town” as I travelled around sight-seeing. I felt the ability to blend in even if I was singing and dancing dressed top-to-toe in a sailor outfit.
With approximately 1,000 Irish people leaving the shores of the Emerald Isle every week however hard I tried I could not help but be reminded of how the past is always relevant in the present.
The reality of life for those in similar situations as myself was reawakened when I logged on to Facebook to find that many friends were still homeless and jobless in Boston. The constant recurring cycle of the failed economy which saw those before me undertake a similar journey in the past is still continuing in the present. Although in 'the land of opportunity' the future for myself and fellow Irish friends is unknown but it is a far more favorable option than the unsteady economy of Ireland offering no hope or optimism.
I need only to look to the success stories of America to know why I feel a sense of belonging and attachment to New York. Unfortunately our Irish state has gone back to the provincial outpost it once was despite the great contribution of the American manufacturing and pharmaceutical business' to the Celtic Tiger growth.
The tactics of our greedy Irish politicians, which have formed a marriage of convenience with developers and masked the true root of economic growth with the ‘Property bubble’, has indeed been ‘the last hurrah’ for me.
I have resolved to make it here in ‘The Big Apple’ even if my dollars will soon run out.