As you get older, lots of things in your life change: your thoughts, your hair, your style, etc.
All of these changes, however, happen throughout over time. In my nineteen years of existence, never has my life changed so quickly and drastically than it did when I moved to New York.
It was an interesting experience for me. Moving from Miami, I thought I would be fine, you know, having been independent for most of my teen years and moving from one big city to another. Little did I know, this would be the biggest adjustment I would most likely make in my entire life. I’d been there many times before, but the city was so new and so fresh to me, it meant a new beginning.
There I was, all alone, getting ready to embark on a new journey that was my freshman year of college. Big step for everyone, yes I know. Huge step when it’s in New York City.
I didn’t really know what to do with myself so I just put myself out there. I quickly learned that this place was nothing like Miami. The food was different, and even with the thousands of restaurants on each block, the only thing I wanted was a Cuban bakery which it didn’t have. It got cold within the first two months of me being there and let me tell you, for a Floridian, that was not fun. I didn’t have my car, which meant I had to walk everywhere, and oh what I would’ve done to have my car.
Something that I never thought I even thought about was the buildings. They were so different than those in Florida, and I craved the familiarity of those from home. Worst part, the nearest beach was at least an hour and a half away. Nowhere did I see a home. I wondered for months if I would ever learn to make a home out of this city that I used to love to visit.
People talk about how New York is the biggest city filled with so many people, and yet I can assure you that it is the easiest place to feel alone.
Two months in, I started noticing the difference in myself. I was buying shoes I used to look at through windows and tell myself I would never get, my accent slowly started to go away, I was always talking to random people on the streets, and walking to get from point A to point B was even easier than driving. The greatest feeling is when someone walks up to you and asks for directions in the confusing streets of NYC, as if she KNOWS you’re a “New Yorker”!!! (progress, people, progress.)
One day in November —I will never forget this day— a woman walked up to me in the East Village and asked if I knew how she could get to Broadway. For the first time since I arrived in this concrete jungle, I knew exactly where to point her towards! Granted, it was only a few blocks away, however, it was the first time I didn’t feel like a foreigner.
If there’s one word I could use to describe New York City, it would be “fast-paced”. You can’t stop, you just have to “keep swimming,” as Dory would say. Until I got home in December, I noticed I didn’t even have time to stop and think about how much had changed, not only in my life, but in myself. But one thing I did know was that there was no going back.
Going home became interesting, because it wasn’t as much of a home anymore. Sure, my family and friends were there, and I finally had my car back, but I noticed I wasn’t so dependent on all of these things. I wasn’t an adult fishing my way through the city anymore. I had parents I had to report to again, but I didn’t feel like a kid anymore. All the people in the city, everything that you get to witness because you are now a “New Yorker”, it really changes you.
It is and isn’t the great city that everyone depicts it to be. I found myself starting conversation on topics that were always related to something I picked up in New York. Whether it was the complications and simplicity of the subway, or the way that so many people can be so rude to you on the street and you can’t even discuss it because by the time you’ve turned your head they’re already an entire block away, I constantly found myself talking about it.
It might partially be because I missed the intensity of it. Miami, a place I call my home, suddenly felt so boring to me. I also believe that the other partial reason the city has such an influence on everyone is because… well, to be honest I don’t know how to explain it. It’s an energy that sinks into you. The city showed me the kind of person I wanted to be. It challenges you that way, and once you feel this energy in your heart well, my friend, you have officially fallen for the Big Apple. (No one that lives in New York actually calls it that by the way).
None of this is to say that Miami isn’t one of my favorite places, because it is (305 TO MY CITY), it’s just not what it used to be for me. But then again, I would assume that what anyone takes from anywhere can linger with them for the rest of their lives. This is just what New York did for me, and I hope for anyone that they can experience such a change in so little amount of time.