Falling in love with New York City

There’s something to travel that makes me fall in love with it every time I find myself embarking on a new adventure. There’s something to getting lost in a new place that makes the butterflies in my stomach dance in the best way, and there’s something electric about falling in love with pieces of a place as I move through and experience it.

Travel nourishes me. It tickles my soul, makes me breathe deeper and leaves me with moments, smiles and memories that simply make me feel full.

At the beginning of June, I satisfied my craving for adventure when I traveled to Boston and New York City with my mom and aunt. It was my second time in Boston — although I hadn’t been since I was quite young — and my first time in New York City. I fell in love with each place, for different reasons, more than I thought I would.

In Boston, I was enthralled by the architecture, history, natural beauty, tradition and fandom — we went to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park — and I left wanting to spend more time there. But New York was the city that knocked me off my feet. It left me inspired, beaming from the inside out and feeling as though there’s so much more to life and living. The City That Never Sleeps captivated me in numerous ways.

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Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry.

New York City: a storied city
New York has so many storylines running through it, and while the same can be said of San Francisco, my current home, I feel the two cities are so very different. San Francisco is soft, easygoing. New York is gritty, hard and beautiful in a rough-around-the-edges kind of way. In just a few short days, I came to love the creativity that’s mixed in with that tough and gritty personality.

There’s a creative energy in New York I haven’t experienced anywhere else. There’s an energy there that lies within the stories of people trying to make it — writers, musicians, inventors, entrepreneurs, actors, artists, chefs and so many more. To submerse oneself in that environment, an environment of creators, is magnetic, especially for a fellow creator.

New Yorkers are proud to be New Yorkers
There’s a sense of pride in New York that runs deep in the city and is shared among the many people who live there. People there are proud to be New Yorkers — to have jobs in New York, to own businesses in New York, to have lives there, to have made it New York City. That’s one of the great American dreams, right, to “make it” in New York?

Late Monday evening, my mom, aunt and I had dinner at a family-owned restaurant in Little Italy. The restaurant was quite empty as we were there close to 10 p.m. Toward the end of our meal, as she was preparing to leave for the night, the restaurant owner, an elderly Italian woman, came over to chat with us. She asked us where we were from, how we liked the food and told us about her hometown in Italy. She didn’t say much, but her confidence, warm, weathered smile and the way she leaned in to our conversation told me she was proud to have brought a piece of her Italian heritage to New York City — and to be hosting us and sharing it with us that evening.

New York on foot
Sunday and Monday, our first two days in New York, were full days. On Sunday, we checked into our hotel, walked around Times Square, grabbed a snack and dinner nearby and saw two Broadway shows: “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” and “The Book of Mormon.”

The following day, we walked The High Line, grabbed lunch at a cute cafe in Greenwich Village, walked through TriBeCa to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and spent a somber, emotional three hours inside the museum.

Leaving the 9/11 Museum.
Leaving the 9/11 Museum.

When we left the museum, we were greeted by a warm, serene summer evening. The sun was sinking behind Manhattan’s skyscrapers; water was cascading into the heart of the south pool nearby; and among those still visiting the memorial, there was an understood silence, a shared sense of respect. It was an incredibly peaceful moment in a beautiful, haunting and humbling space.

9/11 Memorial.
9/11 Memorial.

I love that New York is walkable. The city is inviting in the sense that you can walk nearly everywhere. Walking, versus driving or taking the subway, allows you to see, feel and experience the city in ways you otherwise wouldn’t.

Seeing New York from the water
There’s also something to be said for walking onto a ferry to gain a far different perspective of where you’ve been. That’s just what we did Monday evening.

After sitting near the south pool of the 9/11 Memorial and reflecting on the experience of the museum and our memories of September 11, 2001, my mom, aunt and I walked over to Firehouse 10 just beyond the plaza and continued west to the Hudson River. We walked along the water and then took the ferry to Staten Island.

Me, my aunt and my mom — all smiles.
Me, my aunt and my mom — all smiles.

As we pulled away from Manhattan, the world opened up around us. We could see Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge; we saw Governor’s Island; and the closer we moved to Staten Island, the more visible the Manhattan skyline became.

Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from the Staten Island Ferry.
Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from the Staten Island Ferry.

From the water, I feel I saw the true beauty of New York City, and that’s the moment in which I really fell in love with it.

With the sun setting to the west of the city, Freedom Tower standing sparkling and strong among the skyscrapers in Manhattan, the summer sky growing soft with pink and purple hues and the Hudson River stirring beneath us, New York won me over.

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Unmatched energy
New York City surprised and delighted me. Its energy and grittiness caught me off guard. There’s something addicting about the city. I feel as though there’s this impassioned adrenaline there. I feel as though passion, creativity and stories pump through the streets of New York the way blood pumps through our veins. The people are the heart, and they keep the blood, the energy, the life of the city flowing.

To me, New York City has a formula unlike any other. I haven’t been able to shake the energy I felt there from my mind since leaving on a sunny Tuesday afternoon three weeks ago.

As we rode the subway from Manhattan to Astoria and then took the bus on to the airport, I felt a pull to stay. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to New York just yet. I felt as though my adventures there, our adventures there, had only just begun and that there was so much more to see and do.

In three days, we’d only touched the surface, but New York had me hooked. I’ll be back — hopefully many more times to come.

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