For my 21st birthday, my friend and fellow adventure seeker, Brooke, gave me tickets to see "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" on Broadway. This past weekend, we finally made the journey to New York City.
For the months before the trip, I listened to Brooke say how incredible the trip was going to be more times than I can count. I responded every time with, "I'm not getting excited until we're on our way. I don't want our expectations to be too high." However, expectations are something that come naturally. And, of course, mine were not met.
Let's start from the beginning.
Expectation: Because the Megabus schedule didn't work with our class schedule, we booked a bus twice as expensive. This was a great plan, because for twice the money, it must be twice as nice. We would have my laptop, which would mean endless movies and Netflix streaming. For safety, we could get there 30 minutes early to ensure the best possible seat for the overnight journey.
Reality: After arriving on time, I called the driver and discovered a very serious language barrier. I then gathered the bus would arrive in 10 minutes. Wrong. The bus would leave in 10 minutes. The first time we saw the bus, it was pulling out of the parking lot onto the interstate short of two very panicked UT students. After running two red lights, we successfully caught up to the bus full of passengers staring in utter confusion as Brooke and I hung our bodies out the window and flailed our arms around. Finally, the bus pulled over on the side of I-40 to pick us up. We boarded the bus – no outlets, no Wifi and no way to understand anything announced until we heard the words "New York."
Expectation: Once we arrive in New York, we will be dropped within walking distance of our hotel, change clothes, look like New Yorkers and explore the city.
Reality: After stopping in I-still-don't-know-where, we realized this was it. We were dropped in a town with the city only in view across a large body of water. At 7 a.m. in 35-degree weather. With our hands full. In the rain. Wearing leggings, T-shirts and Nike shorts, we wandered aimlessly for a solid hour. Our phones were dead, we were almost driven to tears in a subway station while failing to read the map, and a man began to follow us insisting we follow him to his car. With pepper spray in hand, we accepted that a $50 cab ride was the only option. Although hours behind schedule, freezing cold and wet, we did make it without the shedding of tears.
Expectation: "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" would be amazing and, since I planned ahead, I knew a secret surely no one else had thought to look up. Neil Patrick Harris could possibly meet fans at the stage door. It would be great. Brooke and I could ask a few questions, get a picture and keep in touch with Neil after returning to Knoxville.
Reality: "Hedwig" was actually more than amazing. After making our way to the stage door, we realized there were around 200 other people with the same genius thought. We did meet Neil for about 5 seconds, and I managed a "You did so great" and received a "Thank you." He was as nice as he could be and offered as much personality as he could. He even answered questions about the controversial finale of his show.
Expectation: After "Hedwig," we would head to McGee's Pub and live the nightlife of New York. Brooke would be my wingman, and my southern charm would do the rest.
Reality: McGee's was as expected. It was fantastic. While awaiting our – or, my – chance to be approached by a very attractive New Yorker, a 30-something woman from Atlanta sat down in the spot that was to be his. The rest of the evening was spent talking in our new group of three.
During our limited amount of time in New York, we made memories that will cause laughter for the rest of our lives, were surrounded for hours by hundreds of people with the same appreciation for a great on-screen and on-stage actor, and made a new friend named Mary.
When something happens that isn't close to the expectation built, that's when it becomes an adventure. Our reality was nowhere close to what we expected.
It was better.
Cortney Roark is a junior in journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.