The Things I Must Always Remember

The other day I was riding the subway with a friend. A few seats from us was a very upset little girl. She was maybe six years old, and as she told it her world was falling apart. She was telling her mother about disliking the book her class was reading, the fight she was having with her friend, and how she fell down and scraped her knee during recess.

Within a couple stops, the same young girl was smiling, laughing, and declaring tonight was going to be “the best night ever.” All it took was the decisions to reread a book she likes, eating spaghetti for dinner, and a swipe of her mother’s lipstick. Watching her whole demeanor change, made me think about the little things that have been able to transform my day since I was child. These are things I must always remember.

  • Street Markets and State Fairs: I love events that get all kinds of people to go to the same place for the same reason. It doesn’t matter where someone is from, who made their shoes, why their last relationship ended or what they believe in. What matters is that you are here to enjoy the act of being alive. You want to see the world from the top of the ferris wheel, you want to smell like the street foods you are trying for the first time, you want to hear the clank of the bangles from the local artisan on your arm. You want to eat too much and then spin really fast while turning upside down on a ride; you want your cheeks to burn red with life; you want to exist in a world of music, and children’s screams, and people holding hands for the first time.

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  • The moment you finish a good book: Ever since I was a little girl, I have been drawn to books. I thought the best homes were the ones with overflowing bookshelves that were surrounded with more books, as if the amount of text it was being asked to contain was too much, and one day it very  gracefully exploded in an attempt to breath again. When I read, I can leave reality behind, and only know the fictional world I am consuming. It can seem more real to me than anything else. And every once in a while, I will finish a book that had such a hold on my heart, I will feel like part of me just died. I will never be able to go back and read that book for the first time again. It doesn’t matter if I love or hate the ending, because I will be so thankful for the emotion it made me feel and the reminder that the quickest way to feel alive is to find a book created from a great author who was brave enough to share his or her words with the world.
  • Handwritten Letters: Emails are faster and more convenient. I will admit that in recent months I have spent more time writing out emails than letters because I have allowed myself to fall into the “I am too busy” trap. But, the truth is, that is why I love letters. We are all too busy. So, it truly means something when someone writes you a letter and takes, ignoring the methods that are faster and more convenient. But, opening your mailbox and finding a card or a letter carries a different weight than an email. You know the thought that went into each word since they couldn’t hit “delete” and wipe away some thought. We can all write with the same fonts, but our unique, handwritten scripts, often bring with them a different kind of love.

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  • Autumn leaves: Autumn is the best season. I love how everything feels new again. It is like we all have a Pavlovian effect, where the sight of red, yellow, and orange leaves mean a new beginning, long after our school years. It means we can chase new dreams, fall in love with new faces, and enjoy every moment a little bit more.
  • Perfectly decorated apartments: Have you ever walked into someone’s apartment and you fell in love with every corner of the place? You fell in love with the colors, and the textures, and that moment when you realize this person has somehow captured their very essence and turned it into a tangible thing within four walls. Seeing someone’s apartment, especially someone’s room, always makes me feel closer to them. I can see what they chose to surround themselves with, what they love and need around them. So, when I love someone’s apartment, it makes me think that person is even more beautiful. I connect them with their mixed-print pillows, the flowers on the their living room table, the antique photos on their walls, and the belongings they have selected to represent the lifetimes they have already lived.
  • Chandeliers: Chandeliers charm me. I become hypnotized by the beauty of light reflecting off of crystal. I don’t think there is such a thing as an ironically placed chandelier — they belong everywhere. They belong above the drunk, dancing dreamers in dirty pubs; witnessing the love, pain, and awkward moments that are fixtures at holiday dinners;  lighting the old pages of well-loved books in famous libraries; draped in bras and disco balls in the beauty salon I frequent; and like in my apartment, pink, mini-sized, and plastic, hanging in the bathroom. One of my favorite things about the city is that chandeliers are everywhere. They are in coffee shops, bakeries, dive bars, night clubs, hotels, restaurants and even the bazaars at holiday markets. Each time I see one hanging somewhere, I think about the daydreams of my youth, sitting under the pink chandelier in my family’s dining room, wondering what my life would be like when I grew up and had a chandelier all my own.

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  • Coke Icees: Ever since I was little and would walk to Burger King with my friends after particularly bad days, I have loved coke icees. I believe they can cure a multitude of ills. I am also lucky because my best friend and my baby sister have the same belief. We have seen how sipping the cheap, gas station treat can cool off anger at friends, momentarily heal broken hearts, and temporarily make the unknown less scary. But icees aren’t just for bad times. My first solo date was in middle school. Since we didn’t want parent chaperones, we had to walk, so we walked to Burger King. We shared icees and our first kiss, and since then the taste of a coke icee, particularly on a warm day, brings me back to childhood crushes, young love, and the idea that you are the only person in the history of the world that has ever been so happy.
  • When that song comes on the radio: Full disclosure, I am not a music person in the way that many people are. I am a books person, a poetry person, a fashion person, an art person, but music escapes me. I love lyrics, I love dancing, and I love that feeling of community that can only be found at concerts when groups of people find answers in the same songs. But, for me, my love of songs often have more to do with the fact they gave me hope and a sense of belonging during some moment in my life. And sometimes that feeling becomes attached to that song for more than a moment, but a lifetime . Here are some songs that have become more than songs to me, but reminders, and beacons, and wishes unspoken: Just To See You Smile by Tim McGraw, Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) by Billy Joel, Wild World by Cat Stevens, She’s Everything by Brad Paisley, Work by Jimmy Eat World, Awake by Secondhand Serenade, In My Life by The Beatles and Brat Pack by The Rocket Summer. 
  • Conversations that never end: There is probably nothing I like better than when I end up with someone and spend hours talking to them about everything. The other day I met three of my favorite people for coffee and we talked for hours without pause. It made me feel more alive than almost anything. When people sit down and try to make sense of the world, it is beautiful. I love when you meet someone you are just getting to know, and that first real conversation, that first conversation with meaning, happens and alters your relationship. And I love when you sit down with a friend you haven’t been able to catch up with in months, and you are able to recharge your love story by simply realizing you still have so much to say to each other.

And a list because this post is already getting so long: I love super soft mattresses covered in fresh sheets and tons of pillows, wearing flowers in my hair, little girls running around with flowers and tutus and big dreams that have not been crushed yet, watching someone fall in love from a far, taco stands, a really good frozen margarita, a new tube of mascara, a glass of red wine and a best friend, a phone call or email from someone you deeply missed and didn’t even realize it, blazers that seem tailored for your body, when your best friend falls asleep in your bed, old books, stores that are filled with the most random collection of treasures, bananas and strawberries cut up and served in a bowl, One Tree Hill seasons 1-6, really good hair days, when the subway comes right as you get to the platform, scenes when Harry and Ginny are falling in love, story lines about the love that can only exist between best friends, that moment when you wake up and you think your dreams really happened, perfectly worded sentences, when my friends’ dreams come true,  a piece of artwork that for a moment gives your life a whole new meaning.

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Things I have learned since moving to NYC

“I live here.” I find myself saying that on a regular basis. I have lived here, truly lived in NYC, with my own apartment, my own struggles, and my own dreams for four months now. Yet, I still will find myself stopping in my tracks every so often to say “I live here.” I am pretty sure I will be finding myself having the same epiphany over and over again the whole time I live here. Everyday is not perfect. Some days are difficult, some days are awful, but it is OK, because some days are magical. Some days are more than magical.

I have learned a lot. It is a different life in many ways than you could have anywhere else, and with that you learn new things. Here are some of the things I have learned so far.

1. There is a New York look: I have always known that New York was diverse, but I never realized that  such an eclectic group of people could all adopt the same mannerisms. But there is a New York walk, a New York look, and a New York attitude to common occurrences like panhandlers, subway dancers (especially if they are really good), and that person who  talks really loud on the bus. Most of the time each person is dancing to his or her own drum and having a party of one in order to find their dreams, but once New Yorkers get on the street they all carry themselves the same way. And, its not because they are mean or lacking personality, but because they are determined, goal oriented, and really just wants to get to Trader Joe’s before the line gets too long.

2. How to shave a few minutes off my travel time: It may seem silly but if you have time in the subway is important to walk to the side of the subway that is closest to your exit. It truly saves you so much time.

3. If there are three empty seats, live room for people: It’s just an unspoken word that if there are three seats available on the subway, you should take the seat that is not touching someone. People just want some space. Also, on the way to work and the way home from work, people want peace and quiet. So just give it to them.

4. Just dance in the rain: Let’s be real during busy times an umbrella is not really going to keep you dry on the streets of New York. When you are on a skinny sidewalk with like 30 people all toting umbrellas, everyone ends up hitting each other and dripping water on each other. Also walking up and down the subway stairs, water is going to fall on you from all directions. So if you aren’t walking to something important, just enjoy the rain.

5. Have a plan-B always: You thought that you were going to that restaurant for dinner tonight? It has an hour wait. You thought you were taking the F uptown? It isn’t running. Anywhere else in the world, these things could be a sign that you should turn around and go home. But, don’t. You have a life, and part of the adventure is forgetting about what you thought you should do, and instead find a plan B. It’s a big city, there are a lot of things to do, a lot of trains you can take, and a lot of people to meet.

6. NYC Rent: Before I moved here if I heard anyone paying the amount the average person does here for a tiny apartment, I would have thought they were insane. And, well I still do. We are all insane. But, let me tell you having a little bit of New York, little being the key word, that you can call yours, makes it all worth it. 

7. Commute time is important time: It can be hard to imagine how people in New York have time to rewind. To be honest, the time that you get to relax the most is when you are commuting. I live in Chinatown and three of my best friends live in the UWS, so I spend almost an hour each way to see them during the busiest time of the day. This is the perfect time to read each day, or listen to music, or write. One of my favorite thing about every big city I have lived in — London and New York — is that there is someone within eyesight reading each time you are headed somewhere. It may just be me romanticizing my reality, but I would love to think that I am continually attracted to places exceptionally full of readers.

But the greatest thing I love and the best thing I have learned?

8. It is always a good thing where you live somewhere that amazes you on an almost daily basis.