Why is that when the story ends we begin to feel all of it? — Rupi Kaur
That’s me spending my last few hours in New York on Clark Street. A quaint neighborhood nestled between buildings decorated with lights and the infamous Brooklyn Bridge. A neighborhood that quickly became my home away from home. Clark Street witnessed a few tears, laughs and some of my greatest moments in the city. Here’s how it all began…
The words of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” echoed through my headphones as a loud rush of air gave pressure to the brakes, slowly bringing the airplane down onto the tarmac runway. As the pilot announced his farewells, I caught a glimpse of the view, peeking through the half-opened window.
“First time in New York?”, asked a woman who sat quietly next to me during the hour-long flight. I smiled, nodded my head and told her that I would be living my dream for roughly four months.
My brief exchange intrigued her and she gazed at me with familiar eyes and said, “Oh darling, I know that story all too well.” “Word of advice”, she continued, “Be yourself and don’t expect everything to be what you imagined it to be, you’ll have the most fun that way.”
More confused and apprehensive as ever, I pocketed our conversation just in case and exited the plane onto my new journey.
After three years of being trapped in an almost robotic system of jaded experiences, I wanted out. The cornfields of Indiana didn’t seem to foster the growth I needed any more, and my life began spiraling into a constant replay of “The Truman Show”. Three years of stagnancy wasn’t how I anticipated my life in undergrad to be. Although I was learning, deep down I felt like there was something missing. Before moving to New York City for four months, I thought that I knew exactly what I wanted. It’s crazy how life can somehow sit you down and transform right before your eyes.
In a city that celebrates creatives and demands conformity in the most honorable of ways, I grew. Not in a way that laid life’s purpose out on a silver platter; in fact, it was quite the opposite. The city carved my eyes open to all of the nuances of a life of personal fulfillment. New York gave me a taste of the real world; the grimy, rigid parts of life that I would have never experienced before. I expected so much before booking my one-way flight to JFK airport. Even though it didn’t all work out how I envisioned it would, I gained a lot from my experiences.
After fourth months of being immersed in a world where dancing on the street is socially accepted (I awkwardly did it once), I discovered that personal growth derives from finding yourself through everyday experiences. I found myself through countless nights sitting on a bench overlooking the Brooklyn bridge. I found myself observing the interactions of people on the subway. I found myself through conversations with artists, displaying their work in Central Park. I found myself, through a man that bumped into me on Wall Street, profanity dripping from his lips, neglecting to apologize. I found bits and pieces of myself that surprised me and enlightened me all at once.
Through the good and the bad, I discovered different versions of myself. Someday I’ll walk the streets of New York again. Until then, I’ll keep the memories I made along the way embedded in my heart forever.