My love letter to New York City
New York City is a city forever shifting, so much so, that when visiting, you have to resign to the fact that, unless you move here (and perhaps not even then), you’ll only barely scratch the surface. That being said, during the four months that we have spent here, it's been enough time to get to know this city and to fall madly in love with it.
New York stole my heart, and for that, I am grateful — it was an act of thievery I know I will benefit from in more ways that one.
You see, New York moves at a relentless pace, and so it forces you to keep up with it whether you like it or not. When we first arrived, I felt like a deer in headlights, often exhausted from the sheer onslaught, of walking the streets, or catching the subway. But then something switched, and I started to catch up, moving more quickly and deftly with each passing day.
It's also incessantly loud, from street workers jackhammering away, to the screeching sirens passing by. The cars and cabs on the road are constantly honking at each other, as if making more noise will help them get through the traffic that little bit quicker. To begin with, this chaos was an assault on my senses, often waking me up in the middle of the night, as I found myself cursing at this manic city. But then I realised the more I became in tune with New York's song, the less time I spent in my own head, learning to just go with it, without overthinking.
The first version of New York that greeted us was spring. It was cherry blossom season, and the streets and parks were transformed into a sea of pink. Some days were so warm the locals would flock to the nearest park, stripping off clothes to bask under the sun, and so often we would eagerly join them, sweltering in Washington Square Park, buying ice-cream from a cart and spending a majority of the time licking our sticky fingers. By night, New Yorker's would take to the many rooftops, affording them the opportunity to look over the city, watching the landscape light up, wine in hand.
By the time we had returned for our second serve after our road trip, something had changed; the quintessential stoops of New York were now decorated with placed pumpkins, signalling that fall had already arrived. By now, Central Park had become a kaleidoscope of colour, with the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot making you feel like a kid again.
And then without much notice, the temperature drops and it's time to layer up for winter. Suddenly it's impossible to step outside without an entire ensemble — a big coat, beanie, scarf and gloves — and even then, the sharp chill will still likely challenge you. The city gets so cold, your skin is bound to become rough, almost like sandpaper. But you carry on, as ultimately, you know you're getting tougher and becoming a little wiser as a result.
In exchange for its tough and trying winter weather, New York pays you back ten-fold with a lead up to Christmas that's almost more magical than Christmas itself. Somewhere towards the end of November, there are signs all around that Christmas is coming to town. Christmas trees begin to pile up on corner sidewalks, as families and couples gather to take their pick, before making their way home with their beloved purchase. We bought ours in Brooklyn, choosing to carry it by foot, dodging people along Bedford Avenue on our way home. Before long, it was impossible to spot a home in Manhattan without a leafy wreath hung from the door, or fairy lights wrapped around the railings.
What's more, all of the the iconic scenes of what makes New York the Christmas capital had come to life. The Rockefeller Center tree and ice rink, the Saks Fifth Avenue window displays, and the Empire State Building lit up in green and red, all put on a delightful display. And just when you think it couldn't possibly be any merrier, the first snowfall sprinkles down on the city.
Experiencing New York covered in snow is really like no other. The same streets we had grown to know, all at once became brand new again. From the cosy pockets of West Village and SoHo, parked cars and bare trees, all but disappeared under a blanket of white. Walking around, we relished in the moment, stopping to look up and taste the snow every now and then, before finding a charming coffee shop to huddle into. Further uptown, Central Park had morphed into a winter wonderland.
Having now experience the park in all of its seasons, it was clear that this is when it's the most magical. There were kids sledding and throwing snowballs at one another, families strolling along the slippery paths, and couples taking photos on the ornate bridges. Finding ourselves in the centre of the park, the skyline vanished behind the descending snow, enough to trick you into forgetting that you are in fact in one of the biggest cities in the world.
Above all, there's something about New York that represents the idea of a fresh start — the type of fresh start that's not only reserved for a brand new year, but with any given day. When there is so much to see in a city, so much becomes unknown, and so when discovery can befall at a moment’s notice, every new day is bound to be vastly different from the next.
With just over 100 days of open possibilities spent in New York, we pack our bags, headed for the departure gate, with a different type of fresh start waiting for us at home. And although I will no doubt leave something of myself behind in this place, I know that I'll be back for more. After all, maybe we all need that second city in our lives, that home that might not ever be home. To reignite, to rediscover, so that we can return to our lives passionate again and excited about the next adventure.
The streets of New York during fall
New York from above
Central Park during fall
Some iconic views of New York
Buying a Christmas tree in New York
Christmas time in New York
New York streets during the first snowfall of 2017
Central Park during the first snowfall of 2017
Another snowfall in New York