The City That Never Sleeps. The Big Apple. Gotham. The Melting Pot. The Center of the Universe. All of these terms mean one thing - New York City. And I freaking LOVE NYC.
I'm not sure if my love for NYC stems from childhood trips with my mom, or if that was just the stepping stone to my true love for the city. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in NYC as my mom was being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma over a span of 3.5 years. We started going to the city, always by taking the train, for doctors appointments and check-ins to monitor the progress. We spent these trips (normally during the summer months or over a long weekend, since I was in school), shopping and seeing Broadway musicals, and eating in nice restaurants. It was like a vacation for me at the time, not fully aware - as a 13 year old teen - what was coming with her illness.
I still vividly remember one trip in particular, which happened to fall over Thanksgiving. We watched the Macy's Day Parade and the following day went Black Friday shopping, and my mom bought me a pair of those super in style Charlie's Angels sunglasses with blue lens and a rhinestone star embedded on one of the lens, from a street vendor. Anyone else remember those? I felt like such a cool kid in those glasses. Another time, we went to Saks Fifth Avenue and she made me an appointment at the Bobbi Brown counter to do a makeup lesson, as I was beginning to be curious about makeup and I was awful at it. We'd walk the city streets taking in the NYC air, while my mom knew her time was limited, but I had no idea.
Then, as her cancer got progressively worse, we'd spend longer periods of time in the city while she received Chemotherapy. These times were not as fun as the others, because it started to become apparent to me that my moms time was limited. Although this was a serious time, my mom would hide her pain to spend the days with me, in our beloved NYC. It was like this was a special bonding time for us, spending moments we both knew were soon coming to an end, in a city with endless possibilities. How beautifully ironic.
She loved New York, and she passed her love of the city on to me.
For college, I wanted to go to New York. My mom had passed by this time, and my dad took me to college interviews and auditions in the city, as I was pursuing acting at the time. I was accepted, but the college tuition was a set back, so I told myself I'd move to NYC after college. After college, I was a typical 21 year old, wrapped up in the young party scene and not responsible enough to make a decision on what to do with my life. I kick myself all the time for not moving to the city straight out of college.
Then, I hit my mid-20's and all I could think about was NYC. Lady Gaga was now an inspiration to me, and I listened to her talk of growing up in New York and the Lower East Side where she got her real start at becoming a star. I wanted to experience this life - the underground scene, the creative lifestyle, and I had the memories with my mom pulling at my heart. I applied to jobs and tried to find any way to make it to NYC. I hit dead ends and honestly, a sense of anxiety leaving Washington DC, for I had a great well-paying job and life here, what if I failed in NYC? What if I couldn't make it. I took the dead-ends and failed job interviews as a sign that it wasn't my time.
Instead, I visited NYC, and every visit to NYC made me feel full of energy. The vibrancy of the streets and the style- oh my gosh, the style - of people walking them was like a shot of electricity to my being. I felt like myself there, in the mixing bowl of creativity, fashion, and life. You can be whoever you want to be in NYC, and that is such a special feeling. There are still times I don't feel like my true self in DC, believe it or not, feeling like I'm holding back on who I am, but I've never felt like this in New York.
I've had the chance to explore more of NYC, and it gets better and better each time. I love the grittiness of downtown with inspiring street art everywhere, mixed with the prestige of uptown. The constant buzz of traffic and people everywhere literally feeds my soul. I feel at home there, like the sky is the limit, although, NYC will tell you to aim higher, the sky is not the limit.
NYC Street Art:
In New York, there is hope - everyone there is hoping to be something. There is inspiration - and it comes in every shape and form. There is creativity - and it makes me open my mind when I'm there. There is smarts - both with business and street smarts. There is humor - once a homeless man yelled at me "HEY, LADY GAGA!" and my goodness did that make my day, lol. I'm still convinced that was a sign, but what that sign is, I'm still unsure of. There is magic and wonder - never knowing what amazing thing is going to happen to you next, or what you're going to experience. There is possibility - in NYC, anything is possible. From running into Diane one Furstenberg or Christian Siriano (both have happened to me in NYC!) to 99 cent pizza at 4am - anything is possible.
I was inspired to write this post after visiting this past weekend and two weekends prior for NYFW. I have always loved NYC, but this time around it was different. It fed me energy that I didn't know I craved. It became apparent to me, while walking the Soho streets on Saturday and getting lost in my own thoughts with the city, that I hope one day to call NYC home. That day may not be soon, but until then, I will continue to cultivate my memories of the city and let those memories inspire me daily.
I love you, New York.
Outfit photos by Preethi Rajaguru in New York City.
Blonde in the District