For the longest time, I did not consider myself a true New Yorker.
Growing up in Brooklyn, it never felt right to me to lay claim to this city. I lived a life all too sheltered, trading in cityscapes for the spartan walls of all-girls Catholic high school. My uniform skirt might have been rolled up higher than the Empire State Building, but I was an academic, musical, and speech-competition machine. According to my Curfew, there was no time for NYC. My experience of the magnificent metropolis of dreams actually consisted of endless liturgies and the monotony of the B6 bus. And then I departed for college in Boston, where I spent four years in a love relationship with its charming cobblestoned streets and a salty one with its dreary winters. I explored, I wandered, I grew up, and I left a piece of myself in that little corner of the world. So when I came back to New York City, it became entirely new and unfamiliar. No template. No schema.
My view of New York City has experienced a paradigm shift. Finally, I’m starting to feel like it belongs to me, and I am, in the deepest manner, welcomed and accepted into the folds of its endless grid. But I only have half answers as to why. Maybe it’s the free time I allow myself in the name of spontaneity and the pursuit of serendipity. Economics would say it’s the disposable income from work last summer and from the generous parental units letting me crash at their place. Mom said it’s love (as she declined to third-wheel this High Line Venture). Still, perhaps it’s because at last, as a sign of growing up, I found the things that make me happy.
Lattes and kisses and white sneakers.
Farmers’ markets and modern museums and strolling aimlessly under the warm summer sun.
The chance encounter where you find yourself magically at the very café you bookmarked on Instagram.
The secret victory when you know you can take the L to Union Square and transfer to the N to get home - all without a map.
New York, New York, you have been so much more stunning than I ever gave you credit for.
Maybe I didn't accept you until I unconsciously knew that it was time. I'm a firm believer that there's always a time and a place - and that it will be the right one - and I think that day came. The day came when suddenly it was such a pleasure to cross the Manhattan Bridge. To pace thirty blocks and work up a hot sweat on my way to dinner at that new place. The day came when I didn't mind the loud clunkiness and perpetual inconsistencies of the subway that - nevertheless gosh geez - the MTA better fix on a timeline faster than 175 years.
This summer has me thinking so much about places and what they mean to us. I know my three months here have already reshaped my image of the city, and those memories and impressions I will carry with me. Brooklyn was my childhood and New York City shall be the cusp of adulthood: a time of newness, change, and inevitable growth.
But, yes, here I am. Just falling in love with my city right before I leave and embark on new adventures.