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10 YEARS A NEW YORKER

Posted on: Tuesday


The other night Gaby and I were walking through the Lower East Side after a lovely dinner date.  We had picked up Biet from her downtown sitter and were leisurely making our way through the balmy summer night towards the subway to ride home.  As we turned onto Orchard street, the sticky musty half-garbage-half-exhaust smell hit us, and I was taken back.  That smell. That smell of the city, that smell of freedom. To me, it smelled not of dirty concrete grit, but of freedom and creativity and life. And then I realized that we were on the block of the very first apartment in which I ever lived in NYC. And then I realized that it had been ten years and one day since I had moved here. A decade in New York. A decade a New Yorker.

Ten years ago, I had parted with all of my worldly belongings, save for two suitcases, and hopped on a plane with a one-way ticket to New York City. It was a red-eye flight but I was so excited that I could not sleep. I knew that my life awaited me. I knew that finally, after 18 years, I was going home. It was a home I did not know yet, but it was my home, I could feel it.  I took a cab from JFK, telling the driver to take me to the Lower East Side.  He talked all the way, asking me if I was an actress. "No," I replied, "I am an artist." Then he told me that his son was an artist too and maybe we should meet each other sometime. But I did not come to the city for a boyfriend. I came to the city to live, to experience, to meet all of the crazy and wonderful people from around the world, to be surrounded in urban beauty, and to explore.. to explore all the world had to offer.

As the skyline grew closer and closer a quiet peace overcame me.  It was the wave of awe and respect that would wash over anybody in the shadow of a thing of such beauty.  Then we were flying over a bridge, and it was as if I was in an old movie.. riding in the back of a cab, unable and unwilling to go back, heading towards my destiny. Suddenly buildings and taxis and people were all around, going to work and heading to school and coming home from the bars, all types of people from all walks of life moving and buzzing in the early morning hour. And then we were there, at Houston & Orchard. 

I got out of the car and took my two suitcases. I had bought them at the salvation army before I left. The  light one held my clothes and two pairs of shoes.  The heavy one was filled with my most important treasures: my books and photos of my parents and sisters, letters and keepsakes and jewelry, and my life savings, all $500 dollars of it. I picked up one in each hand, and walked down the street. And thats when I first smelled that lovely old fragrance of the city, the wind gust of trash and old beer and sweat and fumes, rolling down Orchard street like a morning fog.  And I was the happiest girl in the world.

So now its been a decade. We took a few photos on that ten year anniversary night, and when I look at them I just can't help but think of all that I, and we, have been through in this decade.  So much life has been lived, and so much has been created, and yet I know that the future holds even more spectacular beauty.

I love New York more than ever.







**the winner of the Barrel and a Heap giveaway is Emily, who said "The watermelon nappy (diaper) cover is my favourite by far!" Congratulations Emily!**

41 COMMENTS:

  1. Beautifully written. I admire your bravery for doing that all by yourself and having the courage to stick to it.

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    1. Wow thank you! It didn't feel brave at all at the time, it just felt right.

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  2. you are so brave! i am not sure i would ever have had the guts.

    and it just shows that things have a real habit of working out for the best :)

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    1. I also believe that things will always work out for the best when you follow your heart!

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  3. Happy NY anniversary! I love the photos and such a great story. My whole family is from New York, but my mother moved me to the country in western Massachusetts when I was a baby. I always loved visiting my dad and aunties and cousins in the big city but I have too much country girl in me to ever really feel at home there. Now I'm in Boston which is more my speed, nothing like New York though!

    xo Lilly

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    1. Thanks Mama Smith!
      I always long for family here in the city, but it is just Gaby and me.
      We do have family in Boston though- what a beautiful city!

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  4. i love your descriptions of new york. i am a midwestern gal and have never ventured to the east coast, so i suppose you can say i love living vicariously through your {and others} NYC lifestyle. you are such a brave woman, by the way! thanks for sharing this lovely post.

    xo, amanda

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    1. Thank you for reading and for commenting! I highly recommend at least visiting NYC sometime, it is like nothing else!

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  5. I read your blog a lot. Every day really. I never comment, but I just had to come out of the woodwork today to comment on your writing. Honestly, I was drawn to your blog by the gorgeous photos, pretty layout, your fun life. It's always a fun, peppy read. But gosh. I really realized today what a writer you are. I sensed it all with you today--the anticipation. It took me back to times I've felt that way in life, and it was so fun to relive those memories again this morning!

    Thanks for sharing and happy anniversary!

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    1. Thank you. so. much. This is one of the most beautiful comments that I've ever received! I usually post here and there about life and such, as you know. But once in a while I feel a real urgency to write and out comes a post straight from my heart. This was one of those times. I am so happy that you enjoyed it.

      It is so easy to write when you are writing about something you love. :)

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  6. Have you ever heard the saying, "You're officially a New Yorker when you've lived there for 10 years"? So congrats lady : ]

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    1. Oh yes I have heard it. and it fills me with such pride to be amongst that crowd now. A real New Yorker, I finally made it! (of course Biet is a real New Yorker by birth, which is even better!)

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  7. Lately I feel as though there is this huge bandwagon of people that want to move to the country and be homesteaders (which is absolutely fine and awesome for them) but I could not understand or put into words why I did not want that, why I wanted to stay in the city, why I wanted to be in the middle of it all. You put into words my feelings that I could not express about city life (opposite coast city life nonetheless). Cheers to a decade and here's to many more ;)

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    1. Thanks miss! I think some people are just city girls at heart. :)

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  8. Goodness. That was emotional and deeply inspiring to read. I, too, am a long time reader/ non comment-or, but this really touched me. Have you read "Just Kids"? I could not help but let that come to mind as I read this post.. I have often thought of moving my daughter and I down there.. Perhaps some day. Anyway, be well. I am truly happy for you & your loves :)

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    1. Reading your comment made me catch my breath. I have read Just Kids, many times. I adore it and I adore Patti, and this is such a humbling compliment. Thank you!!!!!

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  9. I'm so happy to have found your blog! Don't you love when you start reading a new blog and it feels just like starting a really good book? I love your writing style and absolutely love this post. I'm in the middle of my 7th year living in New York, and can't wait for my 10 year anniversary. Although, your post has inspired me, and I might have to write a NY love letter on my own blog 3 years early. Looking forward to reading more of your blog!

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    1. You can write a New York love letter every day, in my opinion! Thank you so much for reading and for this lovely comment!

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  10. So glad to have stumbled across this post. Though I attended and dormed at NYU I never felt like a true new yorker until we got our first apartment. It too was in the lower east side and on orchard st.
    if you'd like, here is our ode to orchard st, which i still think is the best street in the best neighborhood in the best city:

    http://tripsinnyc.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/bye-orchard-street/

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