New York City – home of the Empire State Building, the grounds of the Yankee hat that Jay-Z ‘made more famous than a Yankee can,’ the port of Carrie Bradshaw and friends’ Sex And The City; all of this and more, in the five boroughs of people, places, and things, that makes what is supposed to be one of the most exciting cities in the world. I say supposed to, because for me, New York City has always been the place that you either love or hate, and I’ve always taken on the latter view. Despite my enthusiasm for excursions and exploring cities, NYC has never been at the top of my travel junkie bucket list, but I’m finally recognizing why that is.
Most of my experiences with The City have been in the midst of the absolutely overwhelming blocks of 42nd Street. Sure, I can appreciate the glitz and glamour of the billboards near Fashion Avenue, standing just as tall as the Providence skyline, paying homage to the material world — but I never found appreciation in the swarm of people and always felt a sense of gluttonous aesthetics. However, I realized that overall, I hadn’t even had a real bite into the Big Apple. All of what I had known about The City had been a collection of my ignorance and outlier experiences. Thankfully, with time to humble myself, a wonderful friend to show me hospitality just minutes away in Jersey, and a much needed excursion, I have finally given New York City the chance it’s never had.
My visits to NY have always followed the routine of visiting the ridiculously overrated tourist areas like Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza, and the Empire State Building. And let me add, there’s nothing wrong with tourist areas. Trust me, in most of the places that I visit, I am the ultimate tourist. Yet, all in all, I believe some of the best moments of a journey derive from the simple pleasures of the most authentic places like the hidden café that I’m sitting in right now in Brooklyn. And as I think back on most of the places that I’ve been, my favorite memories always begin and end in the most unconventional places like the sublime Red Rock Canyon miles outside of Vegas’ wild strip, or the bashful beaches of Milwaukee undertaken by their infamous beer and cheese, and even the evanescent corroding basement music venue that I found in Paris.
I am blessed to have traveled and hope in a few years will be said to many places. I remember dreaming of a life like this as a little girl; wanting to escape the few square miles of my family’s naturally poor but rich in spirit lifestyle in Providence. I never thought my grandparents imprisoned my siblings and I to the streets of South Side and I know if they could have given us more, we would have had it at their first chance. My grandmother reminds me of she and my grandfather’s dreams to move to Los Angeles later in life. But they deferred that dream to salvage the structure of what a family should be. What could have been destroyed by my parents’ then and now forgiven abandonment, addiction, and recreational relationship with the 80s delivery of carnage in the urban community, was mended by the forever grateful selflessness of my dear grandparents. It warms my heart and almost brings me to tears every time I really think about it. They pushed pause on their dreams so that my sister and brothers could push play on ours. And now, in my own mini-vacation, I can even meddle with my imagination and think on those things that gives my dreams a chance.
My appetite for traveling has only grown and so has the passion in my dreams. And moments like this, where I can rest my keyboard on my lap, have a cup of mocha or black tea at hand, and enjoy writing is absolutely therapeutic. On the Surface literally and figuratively (shout outs to one of Microsoft), I don’t stop at just writing. I am always thinking, always reflecting; engaging in a means of reflection that sometimes doesn’t shine or release itself the way it should in our most common quarters. It’s a God-given antidote that I cherish and make a priority in my life. It’s my own personal time to awaken the creative inertia that I have inside of me – and what better place to do it than New York City.