Can you recall a moment in life when a miracle happened suddenly, came from nowhere as a summer rain and vanished away with the same speed? It’s the only way I could briefly describe my accidental Broadway trip. It caught me unprepared and later drenched me deep in its oddity.
I have always liked the Turkish word for fairytale – “Masal“. It sounds so unusual, soft and gentle, out of this world. This is the word to precisely picture a sudden event, which turns life’s flow upside down and stamps it with a special meaning. Broadway was my “masal”. It came as a light breeze, later blew me away and as an extra, made me feel like Cinderella for a night.
Starting from the very beginning of this story, I should admit, I didn’t want to go to New York at all. Having one of my rare off days, I was enjoying a sunny warm afternoon in London, when my employer called me, cutting it off and asked for an urgent meeting. It was a pleasant Saturday in March, a marvellous spring day in the UK capital. Speeding to the meeting, I had no idea what to expect, as usual. Seems like it was an emergency situation. I was instructed to immediately buy a plane ticket to New York and to take off as soon as possible. If you were familiar with my work days routine, this situation shouldn’t be considered abnormal. My urgent trips were part of the game, so no drama and no panic.
Despite that, my reaction was kind of extreme. I said:”No way. It’s minus four degrees C in there, I won’t go “. I am not sure who was more surprised by my reaction. My employer, who was not used to receive answer NO or myself, who never dared to say NO before. I guess the other side was shocked enough to start laughing instead. After a short negotiation, I got the promise for a compensative trip to Maldives and finally next day, in Sunday evening, I found myself on the plane, heading to NYC.
Smooth flight, no turbulence, comfortably sleeping whole night in business class, no complaints, landing after midnight. It was my first trip to NYC. And here comes a confession – I do not like that city. Even I was kind of spoiled, accommodated in an adorable 5 star hotel in Manhattan, between Madison Avenue and Central park. NYC “welcomed” me at minus 6 degrees C in the end of March. The day light temperature didn’t go over minus 4 C. Everything was frozen, covered by ice. The environment from the airport to the final arrival point looked so industrial and grey to me. No colours, no warmth, no shine. Coming from plus 18 C in sunny London, I felt suddenly dropped off at the North Pole.
My only goal was to complete as soon as possible the task and to go back to the real spring in Europe. That business trip was quite successful in the end. Quick negotiations, mutual satisfaction, all was finalised by Monday. It seemed like the hosts were extremely relieved of my unexpected visit and performance. The deal was closed and I got a gesture of gratitude – a Broadway ticket for the most popular musical “The phantom of the opera”.
Well…at the very first moment I was not able to value that gesture. Probably my brain was completely iced by the local winter. Thinking only of the return trip, I had no plans for the rest of my spare time in NYC. On my way back to the hotel room, I thought to ignore the ticket present and not to go outside at this freezing night. But the curiosity took over. I dressed up myself properly for attending the musical, tried to pay attention to each detail (something normal in Europe) and went to Broadway street.
The New Yorkers obviously don’t mind the frost. Despite the outside minus degrees, the famous Broadway area was overcrowded. Honking vehicles, chaotically walking pedestrians, different type of music, coming from the nearby restaurants, huge shiny screens, announcing the actual shows, variety of food aromas, laugher and permanent murmuring…that was my first impression of Broadway.
I was expecting to see classy dressed people, moving elegantly type of the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” style, heading to their theatre play. I also expected some limousines, parked nearby, delivering the spectators. All those over expectations sound to me silly right now. I was wrongly imagining a picture from the 60’s and somehow believed this will fit with the artistic, pompous Broadway.
Broadway is a hectic part of Manhattan, mixed and loud, just a bit shinier. I was dizzy from all the noise, the lights and the smells around. I somehow managed to find Majestic theatre, pre-tasting the enjoyment, totally excited and impatient to watch the show. At the moment, I entered the lobby though, I realised my imagination was too playful. I also found my sophisticated expectations and preparation didn’t match the theatre habits on this side of the Atlantic ocean.
I was the only overdressed person, who applied the refined European theatre culture at a wrong place. The other spectators were simply packed in jeans and sweaters, daily winter shoes and warm casual jackets. My official dress, long coat and high heels made me feel silly and uncomfortable, like I was the one who had no idea how to attend such event.
Do you remember the dramatic sound effect in the movies? When the music goes louder, expressing the excitement and suspense, then suddenly drops down, heading to an emotional final. That was my first touch to Broadway. Waiting in the lobby, trimmed in my fancy dress and shoes, polished combed hair and make up, I felt embarrassed of…looking stylish and elegant. My “masal” was on its way to break down to pieces. Already in the the hall, the first announcement I heard was that taking photos during the show is strictly prohibited. I already felt as a criminal.
When the lights were off and the show began, the moment was enchanting. I truly enjoyed the next a couple of hours. My painful memory after the brilliant show was not related to the musical at all. I discovered in the hard way how difficult is to catch a taxi at 11 pm in Manhattan. My feet were already frozen and petrified in the stupid fancy high heels. The frost almost led me to tears. The biting minus temperatures soaked through my official dress and iced my inappropriate for this climate outfit. I was completely relieved, grateful and happy to reach the hotel.
I traveled to NYC two more times later on, but never went back to Broadway. Even it was not that cold anymore. Somehow my thrilled expectations were ruined. My dramatic impression for living through a Hollywood style night was gone. The romantic dreams of being a hero of my own Broadway “masal” were vanished. Now I can simply say for my Broadway experience – been there, done that. I guess lots of readers won’t agree with my point of view, but all the people are different and thank God we are. Not to like one and the same things is kind of advantage. Otherwise life would be so boring and predictable.
I do not miss New York and do not miss Broadway, but I am grateful for having the opportunity to taste them. I won’t ask myself “What if?”, because I already experienced it and I know it was not my cup of tea. I am convinced we should try activities, even they are not in our preference, just to make sure what suits us. So…I tried it, tested it and passed through. My odd accidental Broadway trip was part of my life journey and I won’t regret it. It’s a lesson I faced, saw, felt, smelt and got frozen at. An opportunity was given to me and I lived through it. But now it’s just a story, quite unforgettable and unrepeatable.