The first time I ended up in New York it was March - the weather was mild, and everything felt dreamy with a shot of hustle; it’s a very specific New York type of feeling that I’ve come to know a little better.
At the time, I was starry-eyed at it all, the infamous pizzas, street style, Trader Joes (this one still doesn’t get old), subway systems ... all of it was an experience. Coming from London I wasn’t overwhelmed, because I knew how to handle myself in a big city, but that didn’t stop everything feeling exhilarating. In retrospect, I was in a creative rut and needed an injection of life. New York was most definitely it. It was one of those journeys that I was attempting to process in real time, whilst simultaneously knowing it was a benchmark for my personal travel. For twelve days, I explored mostly alone - I walked the whole of Broadway, stumbled upon Union Square Farmers Market, marvelled at the views from Williamsburg Bridge and even found my favourite spot in all of NYC (keeping that one a secret, sorry).
Thanks to Instagram, I was alone, but not lonely. I had managed to make some connections with creatives I admired and was lucky enough to work with, so the days of wandering were also filled with laughing, heart to hearts and warmth. It’s funny, because when you’re younger you mostly make friends through repetition - being around them at school or work, but I remember coming away from the trip with an overwhelming sense of gratitude - I had managed to create a genuine sense of trust and love with these friends, all of whom I am still in touch with.
One thing I have realised from this, and subsequent trips, is that I always leave New York with an understanding or discovery of a new part of my character.
I used to think that spoke more to solo travel than the city, but whilst being alone does have a part to play, I cannot deny the way NY’s energy resonates and influences me. Like gap year students go to Thailand to ‘find’ themselves, in times of personal confusion I’ve found myself packing a suitcase for the Big Apple. Seemingly ironic considering it is one of the busiest cities in the world.
That first solo trip truly set the tone for my relationship with New York; over the last few years, it has beautifully given me a sense of community. It was one of the first cities to open the doors of global friendships to me - I’ve been lucky enough for this circle to grow and thanks to the Internet those relationships have blossomed. These connections are something I’ve come to be deeply grateful for over the last few weeks, having friends across an ocean that I deeply love, cherish and admire is a feeling I find hard to encapsulate. I look back to the high school friendships that were born out of daily contact and realise meaningful connections transcend physicalities in ways that I only appreciate with age. Like most good friendships, I don’t quite remember exactly when or where these friends evoked so much appreciation, but all I know is that I am better off with them in my life.