A Perfect Last 24 Hours in New York City
For eight years – eight glorious, difficult, painful, amazing, crazy years – New York City was my home. I moved to the city so soft and so young, so scared of the world around me and unsure of where my life was going to go. I moved to the city because I decided at 15 that I would, for no other real reason other than I watched a lot of New York based TV shows and it just seemed like something I should do. I moved to the city with dreams of being a fashion photographer, but not a clue how to make that plan happen. There were rough years where I was drowning in anxiety, struggling with unemployment, feeling so completely alone. And then I persevered, and made it through somehow. And then life started getting really good – I met the most amazing people and had the most amazing experiences and grew up. I grew up so much that I started dreaming bigger than New York – this city that I thought had conquered me gave me life, lifted me up and made me believe that I could take on the world. So Brandon and I started piecing together this crazy plan, building this website and our films and then a business. We ran so strongly toward this new future, and it all started finally becoming real. But then it came our day to leave – we dismantled our apartment, sold off everything from our furniture to our plants to our TV and set off for the world. The day we moved out of our apartment, we hopped a flight to Hawaii, and when that dream week was over, we came back to this city for one day. Before heading to California for a few weeks to set up our home base, we had to come back to New York to move our items home. How do you condense eight years into one final goodbye? How do you fit a whole lifetime into 24 hours? Somehow we managed to celebrate our life with one perfect day.
I spent the last five years living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. First in a terrible walk-up with a ceiling that was caving in a slummy landlord who demanded that we pay rent in cash – but I loved that little shoebox of a home. Then Brandon and I moved into a shiny glass high-rise (although they barely let us in – we lived in the smallest apartment on the lowest floor) but still, we made that slightly-larger box our home, and I loved it there as well. This neighborhood became my home – and no perfect day would be without a Williamsburg morning.
September was always my favorite month in the city, the sun is still warm and the days are still long from summer, but the air stops being heavy and sticky, and everything just glows and feels happier – it was ironic that we moved out of the city on September 1st, but we did get this one beautiful, glorious late summer day. The West Village is the one neighborhoods I always felt like I should have spent more time in – so quaint and charming and European. And SO expensive, but I guess you just get used to that after a while. This photo is just so fitting, it’s beautiful, but you never get your perfect shot in New York, there’s always some construction and someone in your way – this time there’s even a pigeon!
And every storefront and restaurant facade is made for a photo.
We spent the day wandering through Manhattan – Soho and Nolita and the Lower East Side, the first neighborhoods that felt like home to me, that I connected with in what feels like so many lifetimes ago. We ran into an old, old friend making fine, fine cocktails at Rin Tin Tin, a gorgeous, classic New York space. Because there is really just nothing more fitting for the city than a few fancy drinks before the sun goes down.
But the one thing that is most important, and that no perfect day could ever be complete without – the people we love. More than the opportunity here, or the beauty or the streets or the food or the creative energy or the lights or any other aspect that makes New York great, are the people that live here. It’s such a hard city to move to and build a life for yourself in – it took me so many years of constant failing to learn enough and grow enough to be able to find that, and the people that stay here, tend to be amazing. By the end of my time living in the city, I was overwhelmed with the amount of friendships I built and the love that filled my life – and still does from afar. No place could ever feel like home without a family – and the family I built and surrounded myself with in my adopted home made my life amazing.
No matter how long I’m gone, no matter how long it will have been since I woke up in this city daily, New York is always going to be a home to me. These streets and these bricks and these lights are still my home. We will return for a few days soon, when the ground is covered in snow and we’ll be in scarves and caps and sweaters, and I hope to continue returning here, keeping our roots, keeping our sense of home.