Within days of my arrival in New York City, six short years ago, I was in love. Crazy, oblivious, passionate love. The muggy late summer air, putrid with scents of human urine and rotting garbage, seemed to me an invigorating breeze. The insane requests of my absolutely psychotic, very probably Mafioso bosses were simply hilarious anecdotes, and fabulous life experiences. The hour and a half I spent on the crowded, local A train at 6 in the morning before classes, and again at midnight after my shift at the restaurant, in order to get to and from my apartment in Inwood (the last stop in Manhattan) was a wonderful opportunity to work on my core strength while holding coffee, a book and applying mascara. The $10 it cost me to buy a coffee with a name I couldn't pronounce, well that was simply the cost of being a REAL New Yorker. Yes, I was unquestionably, undeniably, head-over-heels in love with my new home.
And she loved me too. My life in NYC was truly magical. In my first job here I nearly spilled soup on Macy Gray while serving her lunch, I took delivery orders from Whoopie Goldberg and I emerged from our bathroom on many occasions purposely disheveled so that Nick Arrojo, a regular, would perhaps whisk me away and hand me over to his good friends Stacy & Clinton. I did makeup for print publications and Fashion Week runways. I made incredible friends from around the world who opened my eyes to new kinds of music, art and food. I finally received my college degree and earned an array of dream-come-true jobs with cosmetic and media industry giants. And of course, one week into my city residence, I had my first date with Tal, and well... the rest is history.
I found my stride in New York, and I'm very proud of who I've become. But there are also parts of me which have faded in the hustle and bustle of city life. When I arrived here in well-worn Birkenstocks with purple hair and dreams of becoming a theatrical makeup artist, I considered myself a free-spirit, judgement free with eyes and arms open to the world. These days, slow walking tourists or a bad manicure set off a string of internal profanities Eminem would find offensive.
I know that in India, and in many of the other places we will likely travel and live, I will be reminded of how lucky I am to be me. I know that I will see things that will break my heart, and I know I will have the opportunity to do things that will mend it. NYC changed me in ways for which I will be forever grateful, but I think my next adventure is a perfect opportunity to refocus on finding my place in the world, and not simply which shoes I should wear when I arrive.