A Night in the Center of the Universe

It’s 2 a.m. on Saturday morning (in New York, anyway; the time zone thing messes me up occasionally. I realized a few weeks ago that, had I been born at the exact same moment on the east coast as I was on the west coast, I would have a different birthday. Blew my mind for a moment.), and I should be sleeping. But, since I’m suddenly feeling inspired, I decided to write about my Friday night in Times Square.

Locals generally turn up their noses at Times Square, it seems, because it’s crammed with tourists, smells kind of bad, and is very commercial. No one has actually given me those three exact reasons, except for the tourists part, but I’m guessing they all play a role.

And, since I’m trying to be as local as possible, I felt a little guilty for spending Friday night either in Times Square or at the nearby St. James Theatre, where a friend and I saw the Broadway production of “American Idiot.” The show “follows the exhilarating journey of a new generation of young Americans as they struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world, borne along by Green Day’s electrifying score,” per Broadway.com. That’s an accurate description.

My friend Emily (right) and I at the St. James Theater to see "American Idiot."

If you’re into soul-searching, rock music and skinny jeans, you would love American Idiot. And even if you’re not, you’d enjoy it simply because the sets are spectacular, the performers have great singing voices (there are few spoken lines in the show) and because there is a thought-provoking storyline woven through all of the songs.

While spending an hour and a half in the presence of outrageously loud and upbeat music was pretty electrifying, there is nothing quite like being right in Times Square. You truly feel like you are at the center of the universe and that you have your finger on the pulse of everything that makes the world go ‘round: bright lights, sounds, smells, a smattering of people from all over the globe – and of course, huge billboards and American Eagle.

The intersection of everything in the world.

I worry sometimes that living here for an extended period of time is causing the city to lose some of its luster in my eyes – when you see the Empire State Building nearly every day, it’s not quite as exciting as it is when you see it for the first time. But, spending an evening in Times Square reminded me that the bright lights and electrifying feeling of the city could never be entirely eliminated. It is New York, after all.

And all sappiness about the meaning of Times Square aside, you can take your picture with NYPD officers there. That in and of itself is enough to make Times Square cool.