New York City: One Year Later

Today I toast to one year of New York City living. It’s hard to believe that last June I packed up the contents of my beautiful Bethlehem apartment, loaded up a U-Haul cube truck, handed the car keys of my 2008 black Ford Focus hatchback over to a sales guy at Haldeman Ford and said farewell to family, friends and little Winston. Joey, who lives in Greenpoint and one of my closest companions, so graciously drove the U-Haul truck to Brooklyn that day to help me move.

I will never regret my decision to move to New York City — and more importantly to stay. To say the last year has been a roller coaster of ups and downs would be an understatement of epic proportions. In the last year, New York City brought me to my knees in tears more times than I can count, provided some of the most incredibly challenging situations, granted the most memorable times of my mid-20s and helped me grow in more ways than I ever imagined.

I have gotten severely lost at the most inopportune times, taken the Metro in the wrong direction, missed my close hometown friends dearly, had numerous OMGWTF moments, felt smaller than small, battled with loneliness, discovered neighborhood gems, learned to be happy alone, gained confidence navigating the Metro system, listened to my heart and made decisions for myself, experienced pure joy, met some fantastic new friends and so much more.

Here is a brief snapshot of the last year:

  • Wrap party at The Martime Hotel with Joey the night I moved in. After having lifted boxes and furniture and moved my belongings into my apartment, we threw on our best party clothes and hailed a cab to Maritime where we danced the night away. I ran into Michaela Conlin (Denise Conlin’s daughter; one of the kindest women I know) of Bones, who greeted me with a sincere hug. I couldn’t have asked for a better welcoming.
  • Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island with Lauren and Christine. In the thick of the city’s hazy summer, Lauren and Christine visited for Jazz Age, a 1920s fest featuring fancy cocktails, dancing, jazz, antique cars and food and vintage clothing vendors. We sailed along the East River aboard the East River Ferry and spent an afternoon in what felt like something straight out of The Great Gatsby. I hope to return this summer.
  • Parties at Dream Downtown, which has now become one of my favorite Manhattan destinations. I tend to still feel a bit out of place when I’m there, but I always have a blast regardless.
  • Staten Island Yankees game with a group of nearly 20 for Joey’s roommate Dan’s birthday. Box seats. Baseball. Beautiful view of NYC’s FiDi. It was the first time I rode the free Staten Island Ferry.
  • Traveled to San Francisco from JFK twice to keep a certain long-distance relationship alive. Michael and I have since decided to go our separate ways, but I will always cherish the times we spent together, especially traveling along CA State Route 1 to Big Sur, skydiving on the Fourth of July, visiting Alcatraz, finding a fortune cookie factory in Chinatown, exploring the beauty of Berkeley and beyond, wandering through Muir Woods on a rainy afternoon, watching the sunset over Berkeley Marina, walking along the Golden Gate Bridge, eating cream puffs from Beard Papa’s and more. I have loved and lost, but I am happy.
  • Landed a contributing writer gig for The Berrics after having met Ryan Ward at Ace Hotel when he was in town from LA for Agenda. Thanks to Andy Po, this connection would have never been made.
  • Dined and enjoyed libations at places including (but not limited to): Oak and Iron, The Levee, Spritzenhaus, Five Leaves, Nights and Weekends, No Name, Manhattan Inn, Lavo, Bantam, Lokal, No Idea, Lillie’s, Enid’s, Matchless, Soft Spot, Zablozki’s, Papacitos, Spike Hill, Berry Park, TBD, The Charleston, Sweetwater Restaurant, Cafecito Bogota, The James, Brooklyn Label, Paulie Gee’s, Calexico, The Trash Bar, Barcade, Union Pool, Cafe Colette, Hotel Delmano, The Gibson, Anella, Lunchbox, The Woods, Crif Dogs, The Meatball Shop, Wild Ginger, Nita Nita, La Superior, Cask Bar & Kitchen, Stout, Sons of Essex, St. Jerome, The Bowery Electric, Nitehawk Cinema, The Cabin Down Below, Rose Bar, Beauty and Essex, The Garden at Studio Square, Cafe Mogador … and the list goes on and on.
  • Survived Hurricane Irene. My mom pleaded for me to return to Bethlehem, but I assured her I would be just fine. My roommate and I stocked up on goods, filled the tub with water and waited for the hurricane that came through as nothing more than a severe storm.
  • Fort Tilden beach trips with good friends. Located in the Far Rockaways, there’s a former military base where hipsters flock to catch sun rays and surf.
  • Laughed until I cried at EastVille Comedy Club.
  • Became unemployed. No explanation needed.
  • Spent countless hours down at the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront and East River Park exploring, enjoying Smorgasburg and searching for goodies at Brooklyn Flea.
  • Welcomed my beautiful sister, Jess, to Astoria where she moved into an apartment with her wonderful boyfriend Bryan, who is the Oakley Times Square store manager. Honestly, I never guessed she’d live here, too. I’m excited to share this experience with her.
  • Went to the Whitney Biennial with my sister and was terribly underwhelmed. Apparently, I’m not the only one who felt this way.
  • Added a new tattoo by Todd Holloway who had a guest spot at Smith Street Tattoo Parlour. Read the blog post here.
  • Found a new yoga studio and committed to my practice once again.
  • Saw Hot Water Music at The Gramercy Theater and lost both of my leopard print flats the moment HWM took to the stage. In my stocking feet, I walked to stand near the merch table for the remainder of the show. My friend Ryan appeared with one of my shoes. I found the other tossed among beer cans and plastic cups. I also lost my Obey jacket. I then proceeded to do cartwheels down Broadway and through Union Square. I’m just glad I didn’t have to walk home without shoes.

Currently sitting at The Ideas Table and looking out into the backyard of my Greenpoint apartment, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have a loving and supportive family who never once argued or felt concerned with my decision to leave the Lehigh Valley behind for life in the big city. I look forward to year two (and three and maybe even four). New York City is finally starting to feel like home.

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3 thoughts on “New York City: One Year Later

  1. What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.

    My little town blues
    They are melting away
    I gonna make a brand new start of it
    In old New York
    If I can make it there
    I’ll make it anywhere
    It’s up to you
    New York, New York

    Enjoy the zoo
    And walk down 42nd Street
    You Gonna be excited too
    And you will feel the heat

    We eat the night, we drink the time
    Make our dreams come true
    And hungry eyes are passing by
    On streets we call the zoo

    No sleep till Brooklyn…

    Time to put the iPod away.

    We never had a doubt, you will always have our support.
    Just don’t become a Mets, Yankees, Rangers or Nets fan (when they move to Brooklyn).

    Like

  2. HAHA DAD you rule. Philly fans for life. Jana, I am glad to be able to share some great times with you here are we both swim our ways through life. I think we have both learned so much about ourselves by living here and experiencing new culture, as I know it will only continue and we will grow to be who we want to be. You’re very talented, so never forget it.
    We are lucky for all we have. You’re a great big sister and I am glad I’m here in NYC with you, even if I’m not as cool as you…..;) oh wait, I might be cooler.

    Like

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