As Christmas morphed into the eve of New Year’s Eve, I found myself on a plane back to New York City. A severe bout of the stomach flu the night before left me bobbing half-awake in my plane seat; the expanse of lights below was extra alluring as we descended on the moon-lit city.
The energy of the city that never sleeps woke me up a little for the trek from LaGuardia airport to my humble Queens apartment — a good thing as the journey was a challenging one (albeit under 3 miles). As I boarded the bus I felt the person behind me unzipping the back pocket of my backpack. I whipped around, stopping him, and pulled my pack to the front. It was an awkward moment as we both continued to stand in line waiting to board; he should be thankful I didn’t unleash my inner New Yorker on him. As the crowded bus rolled slowly through Queens, one woman – obviously a New Yorker — found it necessary to shout to anyone who would listen, “You don’t stop the bus at a stop if someone hasn’t rung the bell. He’s crazy. The bus driver’s crazy.” If I’d had more energy, I would have rolled my eyes.
I missed my stop, and ended up taking a train back to my neighborhood. As I ambled the last blocks towards home running on just a couple hours of sleep, a few glasses of apple juice and a package of airplane pretzels, I felt as if New York City had already defeated me in the hour I’d been back. When I finally flopped into bed that night, I asked myself, “What in the world am I doing living in New York City?”
My thoughts that night were overtaken by sleep in minutes, but I continued to ponder the question the next couple days while two visiting friends and fellow Wisconsinites and I took on the City with a renewed sense of adventure. As we ate our way through seaweed salad, lotus root salad, pork belly and intricate sushi rolls at Momo’s Sushi Shack on New Year’s Eve, I realized being in that exact place at that exact moment was as unexpected as our very Booklyn-esque meal.
As we sat atop a rock in Central park with a bottle of bubbly, watching fireworks light up the sky and reflect off the surrounding buildings in the first moments of 2013, I realized how much of a journey 2012 had been, and considered everything that ultimately led me to moving to New York in May.I remembered how leaving a sea of opportunity in Madison for the vast unknown of New York felt like one of the most difficult things I’d done, despite my internship being an incredible opportunity I remembered the difficulty I had deciding to stay in the City after my internship ended, and how incredibly small I felt as I transitioned from the internship into the unknown world of the specialty department at Whole Foods.
And I realized the next day as we wandered through the streets of Brooklyn that despite having the occasional day where I’d like nothing better than to cover my eyes and ears and block out the New York-ness of New York, there’s no place I’d rather start my 2013 than right here, right now.
I specifically remember thinking to myself on January 1, 2012, as I tried to compose a list of New Year’s Resolutions, how daunting it was to me that I had no idea where I’d be in the post-college world a year from that point. I’m sure the adventures of 2013 will be just as unpredictable, but I can tell you New York City has got me for at least a little while longer. I don’t want to leave until I feel I really have a grasp on what makes New York New York; until I’ve tapped more than the surface of the food scene; until I feel I’ll left my mark in some small way.
I’m confidant 2013 will be an incredible, unpredictable, and beautiful year to learn and grow in. I’m so excited for all that lies ahead.
What was your most unpredictable adventure of 2012? Where do you see yourself on January 1, 2014?