April 7th, 2020
I fell in love with New York the way one falls in love with their best friend: unable to pinpoint the exact moment and impossible to ignore once realized. Just like any first love, this love was idealistic and naive. I placed it on a pedestal and refused to entertain negative comments or bad news. By the time I was 25 (and had my fair share of failed relationships and heartbreak), I decided to fulfill my hearts first desire: I went to New York.
A little more mature than when I first started fantasizing about the taste of the Big Apple, I wasn’t surprised to find it bittersweet. I remember walking in the man-made shadows of iconic skyscrapers, getting lost among a million strangers in Time Square and wandering aimlessly in Central Park, in search of a photo-bomb free spot to plant myself and try to block out the noise. Comfortable with my own company, I explored New York solo. I never felt like I was in danger, but I was fully aware that I could not let my guard down in the city that never sleeps. To some, this may sound exhausting, but here’s how I justified the opposite in a caption from the archives:
It’s like being connected to the city’s heartbeat – vibrant, energetic, alive. In New York, you don’t just see the city, you feel it. (2017)
In the year that I lived in the United States, I was lucky to have visited New York three times for a total of 21 days. Some days I walked over 20 kilometers from Brooklyn to Manhattan, other days I video called my mom from a cafe with free WiFi, crying because I felt lonely and all I could afford was a bottomless coffee and a bagel. There was no honeymoon phase, but I didn’t need to be romanced to feel fulfilled by making a life long dream come true. I guess that’s the thing about first loves: it may not be The One, but it’s the one you’ll always remember.