My Trip to New York City: Food, Shenanigans and Conversations with Strangers
With a “fly by the seat of my skirt” kind of attitude, I welcomed everything — and everyone — New York City had to offer over the holidays. And had a blast doing it! I’m a sucker for a good adventure, and New York is certainly the place to find one. The streets were packed and the lights big and bright, making the buzz palpable and the cheer a flowin’!
Eager to do something out of the ordinary for the holidays — and for myself, I was hopeful that I’d return back to Seattle feeling reinvigorated and raring to go for whatever is next, which I did. And though I try not to place too much pressure on the resolution part of welcoming a new year, I powered on and set some clear intentions… one involving a piggy bank, and two involving the great act of taking some leaps of faith, personally and professionally. More on that later.
In addition to all the incredible food, sightseeing and nighttime shenanigans my holiday trip provided, it also gave me a commanding sense of humanity. Who we are, where we come from, and why we exist ran through my brain with every subway ride, bar stool conversation — and straight up street talking! I got to see the great Brandon Stanton’s vision front and center, making me love his work, Humans of New York, even more. The energy is sharp — and the hustle commendable. You can be anything you want to be . . . just don’t stop.
One of my most treasured experiences while taking in New York was talking with a particular doorman who worked nights at the place I was staying. On the first night, I walked in around 3:00 a.m., after celebrating Christmas with a lovely group of strangers, and immediately started a long, nightly discourse about the book he was reading, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The timing was perfect, and I loved his perspective on the subject of mass incarceration, which fueled my desire to publish my own piece on the topic.
I also appreciated his honesty and willingness to share his own story about growing up in Brooklyn and into single fatherhood. He had miles in him. And though our exchange was fleeting . . . and happened in the wee hours of the night throughout my week’s stay, I’ll never forget his outlook on life — and how life altering — and affirming, a stranger’s wisdom can be. I, too, shared some personal trials and triumphs — and he listened, without judgment, night after night. We ate candy, told jokes, talked about more books . . . and he never failed to ask about my day after I’d put in some hours aimlessly wandering the streets of Manhattan. I looked forward to seeing him — and thankful that I stopped to ask what he was reading when I had the chance.
I thought about our conversations while walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on my last evening in town. It was picture perfect too: the sunset was breathtaking, Beyoncé was on high volume, and lady liberty seemed taller. As I continued to tread down unfamiliar territory, while reading messages inked in black marker along the bridge (more great timing), I was reminded that it’s all about the people—who we sometimes least expect — that can ignite our fire and teach us something new about the world. Sometimes I think that we get too caught up in our cell phones — and everything on them, that we miss what’s directly in front of us. I never expected to spend my early mornings talking about love and politics and hard-hitting struggles with a gracious doorman. But I did. And I valued every second of it. He gave me hope for what’s to come — and advice on what to leave behind.
There are so many good people in the world. Really, really good people.