In a week from today I'm jumping on a train and heading up to...New York!!!
I'll be there for about four days visiting both my brother, who goes to school there, and my sister-in-law (two of my favorite people in the world!). I'm so very excited.
After college I lived in New York for two and a half years. I know that isn't a very long time but in those few years this city made such an imprint on my heart. I love New York. By the time I left I was ready, and of course there were crazy things about my life there (the great lengths you must go to for groceries!) that I wouldn't want to have to deal with again.
All of that aside, though, it's the flavor of New York that resonates with me. Small things, even after months of living there, used to make my heart flutter a little. Jumping on a bus and ending up a few minutes later at Lincoln Center. Getting asked directions and knowing how to give them. People-watching from the window of a coffee shop. Normal life in New York was vibrant and alive.
The funny thing is, I'm not sure I'd ever want to move back. New York suited me beautifully for this very particular moment in my life. I was there at a time when I didn't have much money to spare yet was determined to experience a bit of New York glamor anyway. I took friends to free tea tastings at Harney and Sons downtown and browsed wedding dresses with my mom at the Pronovias flagship store. It was in New York that I really started to love shopping for food and specialty ingredients and hopping around to different ethnic food shops and hole-in-the-wall markets. Since I was usually only cooking for myself I had the time and freedom and energy to spend a morning stocking up on curry powder from Kalustyans and parmesan cheese from Milano's and fresh produce from Union Square Market. I had a teeny tiny bedroom that I loved and a teeny tiny kitchen that I loved and my pride in this shoebox apartment was inversely related to its size.
While I don't consider myself a particularly gritty person, I feel like the grit I do have I got from New York. Life in that city (any city I imagine) wasn't always soft or pleasant. The cheapest way for me to do laundry was to bring it to a laundromat a few blocks away, so I trudged there and back almost every week. One time a very creepy man with crazy looking eyes walked into the laundromat, came over to me, and demanded that I look at him and smile. I didn't and after a few more tries he eventually walked away but it left me feeling a little shaken. Another time I was walking past a man smoking a cigarette and I discretely turned my head so I wouldn't have to smell the smoke. He noticed and decided to lean toward me and blow the cigarette smoke directly into my face. Infuriating, right? But you just have to laugh it off and move on. And exercise your grit.
I rarely took cabs when I lived in New York and almost exclusively walked and took buses and trains to get around, which believe me, I loved (such freedom!) but it's a lifestyle that really toughens you. Not only because of the weird (sometimes disturbing) things you see on New York Public Transportation but also because of the sheer inconvenience it sometimes was. It could be so exhausting and frustrating but it was almost always worth it for me to stick it out and wait for that late bus or make that one last transfer to get home. I was actually pretty proud of my dedication to public transportation. It gave me many lessons in resiliency.
I haven't been back in two years (!) so I'm really looking forward to visiting some of my favorite parts of the city and hanging out with family. New York is lovely this time of year too, which is a happy bonus!
Thanks for letting me reminisce a little. I can't wait to share how the trip goes.