Never Give Up On Your Dreams (Part II)
This is a continuation of Never Give Up On Your Dreams (Part I)
I didn’t leave alone. We checked into The Carlton Arms, a crazy home-style bohemian hotel that had art touches everywhere, from the ceiling to the bed frames. I sat down with my friend and asked why she hadn’t intervened or defended me. She didn’t want to talk, so we went to bed.
The next day, I woke up and went looking for a job by myself, but upon my return, found my luggage in the hotel reception. She’d checked out and now there was no vacancy. I had no choice but to call my guy who picked me up. The drive was the most horrible ride of my life. I still felt hurt and disrespected after being called a selfish prostitute. But having no other place to go, I followed my guy to his place.
The “Samurai Warrior” was how I decided to preserve that moment. It would be the symbol I’d carry with me to help conquer New York City.
Nothing in my life was going right. My friend had hurt me, and I didn’t know why she’d turned on me. Time passed, and I soon found a school for my English studies and a job as a coat checker at a restaurant. Winter arrived, and my boyfriend finally started treating me differently. He’d realized that I wasn’t the horrible person he’s accused me of being.
My time was occupied with working, studying, cleaning the house, and cooking. We lived in a basement that we shared with a weirdo, but at least I was happy! We were the perfect couple–who never went out. One day, he confessed that he was actually underage, which explained why we never went to bars. Despite his possessiveness and the jealousy, we were in love and nothing else mattered. We moved to Astoria, made our new home and decided to get tattoos to symbolize our love. I wasn’t sure what to get at the shop until I found it. The “Samurai Warrior” was how I decided to preserve that moment. It would be the symbol I’d carry with me to help conquer New York City.
Another three months passed, and I had to return to Italy. After a month of daily phone dates, I decided to return and surprise him. “Come pick me up at the airport, babe!” Unfortunately, the fairytale reunion I’d imagined was destroyed. He wouldn’t admit it, but he wasn’t thrilled with my surprise visit. We started arguing about nothing. I’d come for love and, again, I received a kick in my ass.
Our happy home was now a nightmare. He’d come home in the middle of the night, sometimes waking me up to find reasons to fight. I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted to spend time with him and instead, he avoided me. I was upset, but after a while, I got over it. I’d recently met Natalia, an Italian girl from Sanremo, and she helped open my eyes to New York and see the world differently.
Days passed and my boyfriend and I grew more distant. Natalia suggested going to the Oasis concert in Columbus, Ohio one night. I told my boyfriend about it and he didn’t care, so in the morning, I left. We hit the road for the concert, arriving home the next day. In my gut, I felt something was wrong.
Back home, I saw that all of my clothes had been thrown all over the apartment. Meanwhile, his toothbrush wasn’t there, so I realized he’d left town for work. I called Natalia and told her what had happened. The very next day, I moved in with Natalia, who provided a spare bed for me.
I suddenly felt the weight of my reality. I was an innocent girl discovering a new world with no real life experience outside of Italy. I was in another country, speaking another language, and, for the first time in my life, I was handling everything by myself.
Aside from Natalia and my Italian ex-friend, my boyfriend was one of the few people I knew in New York. But our love wasn’t mutual. We spoke only a few times after I left him, and the most unexpected person who checked on me regularly was his father. He was a good friend to me for many years after.
Though I had experienced so many challenges, I never let go my dream. I learned English and began to see the beauty of the city.
I was in another country, speaking another language, and, for the first time in my life, I was handling everything by myself.
And what happened to my Italian friend whom I’d begun this adventure with? She contacted me in Italy once a few years later. She told me she’d actually married her guy and fallen into a depression. He’d cheated on her. She discovered a sex video he’d made with another woman, so she returned to Naples. She wanted to reconnect after all this time, but her selfish betrayal ruined the friendship for me.
As for me, I continued living my New York life. I found amazing friends, had adventures of my own, and embraced being an independent woman in the world. I’d finally begun to live my American dream.
Photo credit: Natalia Mantini NYC