In Stephen King's Dark Tower septology, gunslinger Roland is on a quest to find the mysterious "dark tower" at the center of his crumbling world. In many ways, I think the reason the 7-book series always resonated so much with me was because I was trying to find a "dark tower" of my own.
It's always been the one sitting proudly in the center of midtown Manhattan - the most iconic landmark of The Big Apple and the shining beacon I spent ten years of my life trying to reach.
Well, today that tower celebrates 80 years since it was completed. Since opening in 1931, it's stood resolutely - almost 1,500 feet tall, from sidewalk to antenna, and still the tallest building in the city (despite losing that title between the building of, and the collapse of, the twin towers.)
I love the Empire State building. Many of my most treasured New York memories happened at the top of it, or at the lovely cocktail bar at the bottom (although I think that's become a Heartland Brewery now.) No matter how jaded and cynical I become about living New York-adjacent, the sight of that looming building never fails to stop me in my tracks and give me butterflies in my stomach.
And even though I've technically "reached" my dark tower, it still symbolizes my ongoing journey towards independence, happiness and success - a journey so many other immigrants embarked on when they too looked up at that towering silver spire and were inspired by the limitless opportunities the American icon represented.