365 Words (And Then Some) On One Year In New York

On August 25, 2017, I thought “eh what the heck” and sent in an application for the company I interned with a year prior. I loved the current job I was at. Adored it. But anyone who knew me understood that the New York minute was the time zone my personality craved.

One week and three interviews later, I had a job offer.

Ever since I did my “trial run” in the city two years ago, it’s been the place for me. Amid its smell and humidity and atrocious rent, it’s been the goal. Nowhere else comes close.

Suddenly, I had four weeks to pack up my life and move across the country.

I hopped on a plane with my two suitcases, and landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport on October 4th, 2017. The morning of October 5th, I moved into the Bed-Stuy apartment I’d signed a lease for, sight unseen. Spoiler alert, sometimes living with strangers you met on the internet works out alright.

After a few fun days with my mom and sister, re-familiarizing myself with the city that captured my mind a year prior, I started work on October 9th 2017.

Soon, I had a routine, a NYC driver’s license, and a growing winter wardrobe. I was adapting to the city around me - I was making New York City my own.

A year later and I’ve learned more from New York than I’ve learned from any other city. I’ve battled mice in ways that are comical, I’ve found the pizza joint that has earned my time standing in line, and I’ve talked to the weirdos on the street. The city has thrown bomb cyclones, financial obstacles, and loneliness at me, only to watch me grow and adapt.

I’d like to stop and bring myself down to reality — I still come very close to getting hit by taxis multiple times a day.

Coming from the West Coast, a majority of my loved ones have never been to New York. They watch movies and see people hailing cabs and eating at fancy restaurants and dressing like the sidewalk is a runway. I gain a sweet satisfaction relaying the truth that I can count my cab rides on one hand, practically live off scrambled eggs and pizza, and would not be allowed to enter a 10-block radius from any fashion show with my wardrobe (if you know someone fabulous who needs to get rid of some goods, send them my way). While the naive perception is sparkling and extravagant, my New York is gritty and endearing.

My New York is moving to a different subway seat so the homeless woman next to me can lay down and rest her head.

My New York is walking in the park and listening to the birds and the street performers beg for attention.

My New York is appreciating the humidity because in a few months I’ll be freezing 24 hours a day.

My New York is walking past the TODAY studio and seeing Kathie Lee & Hoda finish up their segment through the window.

My New York is air drumming to “Jack & Diane” while running in Central Park.

My New York is saying “hello” to every goldendoodle I see.

My New York is remembering how small I am, while simultaneously remembering that I’ve made it this far—something must be going ok.

While my little trial run in the city helped “intern Lil” get a glimpse of life as a resident, it did not come with a pamphlet with every question I’ve had. Considering that 95% of the people who are my roots back West don’t have any idea what a “day in the life” looks like, phoning a friend is not always an option (except, hi mom!). This last year has been a lot of winging it and hoping for the best. Sometimes things work — the living with people I met online thing? A gamble I had to take that worked out.

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Most importantly, this “big city” has shown me how intricately woven life is, for each and every one of us. Certain challenges lead to skills or knowledge that help you better serve someone in two months who you didn’t know two days ago.

Lin Manuel Miranda, a NY native and someone I do wish to run into on the subway someday, tweeted out the other day:

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God is in the detours.

He is. Things I’ve scoffed at or thrown a “What in tarnation,” “You’ve got to be kidding me,” or “That’s it” at are moments I’ve learned the most. While cringing from the growing pains, I look back at this last year and have to admit that my discomfort has shaped who I am today. God has been in the detours the entire time.

There is an impending attitude of “here I am, hear me roar, it’s all about me” that New York screams louder than other cities. It’s often a faithless place, which is discouraging. So many believe Times Square lights up for the sake of pleasing them—it doesn’t.

While New York toots its own horn too often (for the love, stop it with the honking!), the moments of humanity show you that the city’s bark is worse than its bite.

A subway car uniting to tell off the rude man harassing the tourist family.

A retiree walking a flock of dogs in Central Park and stopping for an ice cream cone.

A businessman giving his lunch to a homeless man.

An Uber driver blasting Italian opera on your way to church.

A pair of strangers sparking conversation over a book they’re both reading.

There are so many beautiful moments when you squish a whole bunch of differences together. It’s community masked with chaos. 

Each morning, my train crosses the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Come rain or shine or inconvenient delays, I get to look out the window at the skylines of both boroughs. I am blessed to be a resident of the city many only imagine. I rub shoulders with dreamers, doers — different people each and every day. That train ride over the bridge each day reminds me of this blessing. I never thought I’d be living this story. I was never the little girl who dreamed of 5th Avenue. But I’m sure glad I’m here now.

Here’s to one year, New York.