New York City was my emerald city and I was Dorothy following the yellow brick road to this place I had never been, but it was going to be were my dreams could come true. It was the place I would beg my parents to plan a vacation too instead of another camping trip. In all my favorite movies, New York was romanticized as this incredible city where people fall in love and people would all move to their own beat, and no would ever criticize you because your punk rock style was different from there jazzy blues.
The more I grew up, the more NYC represented a freedom away from a strict childhood, and as I fell in love with Broadway I was convinced of that faithful day that I would own an apartment right on Times Square and see a Broadway show every week. This is the life of the glamorous writer going to the Met Galas and walking down the street in my high heels I wanted for myself. I’ve written about this image I’ve created for myself not only in my previous articles, but throughout my whole life. Imagining the bustling movement of the city created excitement and I waited for that faithful day where I could call New York mine. One day the greatest city in the world would be my home.
I’ve always imagined knowing that I’ve found a home, would be the same feeling I’ve had whenever I’ve fallen in love. Like knowing that I was exactly where I needed to be; I wouldn’t be thinking about anything else, only about the feeling over overwhelming excitement, that moment you forget to breathe, and it’s terrifying, but in the best way possible.
When I got out of my taxi cab and stepped onto the streets for the first time, I felt excited, and proud that I had finally made it to New York. Yet it took me all of a minute to realize, something wasn’t right. Why wasn’t I crying the tears of excitement, why wasn’t my heart beating fast, had I hyped up this city too much?
The next 24 hours I spend getting lost in the city, admiring my hotel views, and fulfilling the dream of finally running through central park singing along to That’s How You Know from Enchanted. New York was lovely, and I didn’t mind the crowd and loved the ability to fiercely independent. I took hundreds of pictures for the views were truly something my Californian self wasn’t use too. Manhattan truly was the greatest city there was, yet as much as it killed me, I didn’t think I was going to be able call this place my home.
Then finally at night, my real childhood dream was about come true; my first Broadway show. When given the selection among the myriad of shows I could see, the choice was simple: Finding Neverland. A fellow thespian might wonder why I chose that as the first Broadway show I would see when there iconic shows such as Lion King and Kinky Boots on the scene. Simply,Finding Neverland is my favorite movie, in fact I love the movie more than I love Peter Pan itself. As a writer I find inspiration and as a human I find the messages of the film always leave me in awe. I had been following the production of the musical for years; it would be foolish of me of to not choose this as the first official Broadway musical to see.
My seats were orchestra and my body shaking of pure happiness as I held up my first Broadway playbill. With the sound of the first song, the lights dimmed and the curtain rose as I see Peter Pan chasing after tinker bell, laughing ever so giddily. The opening number began intensely and I was completely unable to hold back my smile. I love the film ever so much and the musical had captured all the elements that made the film special in my heart. I clapped profoundly after each number and found with each smile and each burst of laughter created by the musical, I wasn’t worrying about what frightened me or made me feel alone. It wasn’t even 2 minutes into intermission before I decided to buy around 100 dollars of Finding Neverland merchandise, the money didn’t bother me; I knew it was the right thing to do. I could have taken the whole production home if I could
Now onto to the second act, where I found myself for the first time in over 7 months finally able to sob as I watched my favorite character get to travel to the eternal magical place called Neverland. As the ensemble sang and she flew off into the sky I all I wanted to do was jump out of my seat and fly with her- after all I had enough faith and that’s what flying is, having absolute faith. And when I walked out of that theatre and back onto Times Square I felt like I was leaving a part of my heart behind and I just wanted to go back even for a simple moment.
Everything about being in that room was overwhelming in the best way possible. Finding Neverland the musical enlightened my imagination and left me speechless, in tears of happiness, completely oblivious to anything else that could possibly be happening. It had been so long since I’ve last felt this way that I almost didn’t realize I had fallen in love, not with a city, with a musical. The world is in love with Peter Pan, but I, I was in love with the land of J.M Barrie’s creation and wanted to join Sylvia in her journey to Neverland. I wanted to go with her and escape that crocodile called time that constantly seemed to chase after me and tell me that I needed to figure out my life and I was getting to old to be a dreamer.
The rest of my time in New York I spent either listening to the Finding Neverland soundtrack, talking about it like a giddy school girl, or wishing I was already back at my job at the Disneyland resort. 19 years thinking New York, as wonderful as it is, was my home and I spent it wanting to go back to Disneyland. In that very moment I realized I spent my life in search of a home, but I was already there. Not a single day in my job goes without a smile and song. Every adult guest I’ve encountered carries the spirit of the 5 – year- old on their way to meet Mickey Mouse, a spirit full of promise and enthusiasm. Disneyland is timeless magical, and Disneyland is forever. Everyday I get to see and be apart of the magic that makes dreams turn into a reality, that alone gives me the strength to carry on with my life that at most times doesn’t feel like I’m getting something right. And that’s a home, a place where you’re surrounded by so much love and magic that life seems timeless.
Just like Dorothy the Emerald City isn’t my home. New York is beautiful, thriving, and I hope to come back and visit. I spent a lifetime on the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City, but this whole time Neverland was where I’m meant to be and where I’m going to stay. After all: There’s no place quiet like home.