“There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.” Simone Beauvoir
Fresh off the plane from New York City-- feeling delusionally sleep deprived, yet energized and happy—it’s a good feeling. Being in the city that never sleeps is always intoxicatingly fun, adventurous and tiresome. The last few days have left my heart full and body exhausted. Days were spent wandering all over the city and into Brooklyn, brunching and lunching with girlfriends, music and concerts on the Hudson River, and catching up with some of the best -- talking, dancing, laughing, and walking until I literally face planted into bed each night. Visiting is never long enough, yet seemingly always too long. New York is a place that holds many special memories, long nights and best friends. It’s a place that is home to many people that I love dearly and a place I once called home for a period of time in my life.
In the summer of 2007 I decided to take an internship opportunity at InStyle and move to NYC for a few months. A city I knew more about from movies and TV shows then I knew about in reality. I was attending the University of Wisconsin, in Madison a quiet (in comparison) yet lively city, but I was craving something bigger for a while -- a change, an exciting adventure. When I received the acceptance letter to a NYC internship I felt this could be it. At the same time, I didn’t feel like I could be there completely alone. So when my best friend Aimee received an internship in NYC as well -- we knew we could not pass these opportunities up together. We were two naive college girls heading to live in a city that was not so much as a short plane ride away, yet felt a lifetime away from all we had ever known. We were scared, anxious, and worried (mostly about our fake id's getting into bars), but overwhelmingly excited to make a life together in the Big Apple!
I will never forget after my mom moved me into my apartment—a few days before Aimee was to arrive. I was just shy of 20 years old. I felt that I was pretty strong and independent to take this leap of faith to a city where I knew barely anyone. Despite these feelings, the second my mom gave me a kiss and hug goodbye I felt my lips begin to quiver. I looked out the window to the towering buildings, illuminated in every direction and felt really alone and unsure. How would I get around? The subway seemed so foreign and embarrassingly enough, scary. What if I didn’t make any friends? What if I was going to be poor, sad and miserable the next few months? I thought I was suddenly making a mistake. Could I call my mom to come back? I wasn’t cut out for this. I moped timidly into my newly set up, but still barren, room and hoped the next day would be better.
The next day, and the days and months to follow were better than I could have ever imagined. There was still a constant level of fear, but mostly fear of the unknown. This fear pushed me into new comfort zones. I was living pay check to paycheck, but it didn’t seem to matter in the grand scheme of things. I had enough to get by, and there was so much “newness” in every single day that my bank account was rarely top of mind. After all there were new places to be seen, new people to meet, new hidden gems to stumble upon, new experiences to be had, new job responsibilities to learn and life lessons to take in. Over the months, I was there these new days became memories embedded into my heart --- memories that have played a large role in shaping me into who I am today.
New York was my first step into the “real world.” Living there taught me that I would be OK if I wasn’t living near all the people and places I loved and was familiar with. It taught me that you could create a life in a place where you didn’t know a soul to begin with-- and a good life at that. It taught me that you could make deep friendships wherever you end up -- if you put yourself out there and really try. It helped me to understand what a “9 to 5” was. It challenged me professionally, personally and emotionally at times. Being a homebody most of my life, I know I would not have taken the opportunity to study abroad had I not lived in NYC. New York left me with a desire to see more, explore more, and meet more people. When the time came to live in a foreign country, I was so ready—another life changing time in my life. A few years after living in NYC, that yearning starting to build up inside of me again. A feeling I knew instinctively. I was ready to try something new. Sure enough I booked a one way ticket to California -- a place I have called home now for the last 4 years. I should also point out I would not have been able to do any of this had it not been for the strength, love and support of my mom and dad. I have been able to blindly follow my heart and take these risks because of them and because of the city that never sleeps.
New York is now filled with memories I will cherish, nights I will never forget, and friends that are like family. Living there taught me the greater the risk, the greater the reward. It showed me my new “limits.” It helped me to be in tune with my fears and dreams and channel them into healthy actions. It made me realize what I was capable of and then some.
Every time I step off the plane in New York I feel a mixture of nostalgia, excitement and butterflies. I can never expect what the city is going to open my eyes too. There is always a new path to be discovered, a new timeless street to stumble upon, a new place to run in, a new restaurant to have mind-blowing meals in, a new dive bar that seemingly never closes, new friends to have endless conversations with, and new spots to dance at until I can no longer feel my limbs—one thing that remains is the money that somehow disappears before my eyes (ha! #worthit).
New York City, I love you. I’ll see you soon. But first, it’s time for a nap.