Dear New York,
It’s me, Karina. I just have a few things I need to say now that I’ve lived in you for the past four months:
- You are everything I could have ever imagined and more. Although I knew you would be a dream, I never imagined I would feel so at home so fast. The Freedom Tower has become my point of reference for everything, my second-star-to-the-right. The thing I see every day and every night. You made me feel like I’ve lived here my whole life.
- Subways are not as scary as you initially wanted me to think. Moving to the big city on my own for the first time was a big step in itself, but I fully pictured never leaving FiDi due to my fear of getting lost on the subway. If you have a basic understanding of Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown, you WILL learn where all those ‘random letters’ take you and how they match up so two different lines can take you the same way. The only problem is that NOTHING RUNS on the weekends at night… Subway-1 , Me-10.
- You are home to the most beautiful buildings and culture I have ever seen. In just a few stops I can go from my dorm building to the center of China Town, Little Italy, Flushing, Spanish Harlem, the Bronx, Dumbo- I can be surrounded by neighborhoods of all cultures. With just a swipe of a Metro Card, I can end up in a primarily- Russian, German, Italian, African, Asian, Indian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, etc. neighborhood, encompassed by all of the culture and religion that comes with that. With just a few stops I can be surrounded by not only the great parks and people playing and laughing and loving, but I can be surrounded by some the most famous works of art and museums in the world.
- You feel like home. Among all of the hustle and bustle of the city, I feel not jostled by all of the rushing people, not deafened by the noise, but in a strange sense of calm. From the moment I got here, I felt like I belonged. First semester into my Freshman year, after just barely surviving my first Finals week, and I have yet to feel out of place. I have yet to feel as if am making a mistake. As if I don’t belong. From day 1 I have felt as much a part of your cultural makeup as I can possibly be. I still have yet to be saddened by my friends back home hanging out without me. I am happy they are living their lives fully as well as I am. I have yet to feel terribly homesick- I miss my family, but not in the sense that I know I’ll never see them again. I just feel more excited to see them when I do. I feel at home because I am surrounded by a new group of friends, people that have taken the role of a temporary family. People who love and care for each other and have allowed me to love and care for them as well. It was a smoother transition to my new chapter in my life because you welcomed me with open arms.
- You’re always ready for a photo-op. No matter where I go, you are always ready for your close-up. Be it a stoop to a brownstone, a glass door with a red light behind it, a cool-shaped tree, or just a street sign, you are home to some of the most photogenic brick walls I have ever seen. I have to admit, you make me look like every iPhone picture was taken with a Canon T6i. Thanks for upping my Instagram game.
- You have given me more opportunities in two months than I’ve had in a lifetime. In my 18 years, I have not lived in the way I have in the past four months. From September to January I have: tried Indian food, tried Greek food (even lamb), gone to parties in the Village, found a favorite Dim Sum restaurant in China Town, met so many wonderful girls in my school’s own pre-version of Recruitment, been to a famous religious/food festival in Little Italy, taken some breathtaking shots of not only the sky, but the Hudson, sat by the Seaport with a good friend just talking about life, taken people sightseeing, seen old friends and teachers from home that came to visit, gone exploring with large and small groups, reconnected with an old friend, gone to my first music festival, gone to a huge event, gone to NY Fashion Week, explored FiDi with a good friend, experienced my first Halloweekend in Manhattan, experienced all of what winter in the city has to offer, while simultaneously finding some of the best friends I have ever had. You know, and gone to school...
- College would not be the same without you. I could have chosen to not live in you. I could have chosen the “traditional” college experience. I could have chosen Greek Row and dorm living and a quad, but I chose you. I chose bustling streets, pizza that can be delivered to me at 3am, museums, subways, falling asleep to ambulance sirens and people laughing and yelling(which by the way, is the only way I sleep now, to noise), walking 20,000+ steps in a day, endless work opportunities, fall fashion, one building, and a close-knit community among a larger world in its own. What’s even crazier? I regret none of it.
- You helped me find Me. I met you again this girl from a small town in Florida who used to be afraid of her own shadow. I came a long way from that girl in my four years of high school, but I’ve seen the most growth with you than I’ve ever seen in myself. I had a lot of insecurities and some, I’ll admit, have yet to disappear into the dust, but I have become much more comfortable in my independence. I wouldn’t even be able to go anywhere without my friends for fear of missing out or just basic fear of being alone, but as I begin to find myself in my words and my actions, I began to find myself more independent, now more able to be alone than ever before. You gave me that confidence.
- My life is more Friends than an episode of Gossip Girl or some Sex and the City rerun, but it’s still pretty great. I’ve found that no, Chuck Bass isn’t going to sweep me off my feet and the closest I’ve gotten to sipping mimosas at some classy brunch place is sipping my friend’s sparkling cider in my dorm room while listening to throwback songs, but I think sometimes my life is better than those shows. Sure, I want the B and S friendship and Carrie Bradshaw’s hair, but I’m content at the rate I’m going right now. I’ve already had so many opportunities and made so many memories in just my first semester, I have plenty of time to build my Upper East Side empire. At this point in my life, I’m happy with just going to school and living downtown near FiDi, making memories with the friends I do have.
- Please Don’t Break My heart. The problem with falling so fast for you is just that- a problem. I have become so entangled in life with you that I can’t imagine living anywhere else. At any moment you can take this cloud I’m living on and send me to a crashing halt. I have such high expectations now that I’ve had a taste of life with you that now I never want it to end. I never want to lose that sense of wonder, I never want to stop exploring or meeting new people wherever I go. I never want to wake up and find myself in some mundane job hating my life wishing to quit and move far away from you and all of your mysteries. I never want to become so complacent that my life becomes a daily routine with you rather than everyday being a new adventure. So please, don’t break my heart. I don’t know if I could stand losing myself in you.
Finally, I just need you to know- thank you. Thank you for saving me from me. Thank you for finding this girl I see today because I didn’t think she existed and yet, here she is. Because of you. So thank you, New York City, for becoming my new home.