[NYC Travels] Part 3: TAKE THAT, SOCIAL ANXIETY
DAY 11: September 1st - Complimented By An Ivy Leaguer
I started the day at The Met Cloisters, located in Fort Tryon Park, Upper Manhattan. I'd say this was one of my favourite spots I visited in New York because the artwork featured in the museum is European art, which reminded me a lot of France. After spending about two hours here, I wanted to take a scenic route so instead of hopping on the subway back to midtown, I took a 15-minute bus ride where I stopped by Columbia University to take in more of Manhattan.
One of the most striking visuals that made my heart smile was passing by a group of seniors celebrating a birthday and another playing cards in the small areas in between the roads. I would have taken a video or photos of what I was seeing, but I was almost too in awe to capture the moment.
It's the small things like the latter which made me so intrigued by New York in the first place. I love how each and every neighborhood provides a different kind of culture that speaks family. No matter what kind of person you are, this city will be good to you, because it's so accepting and open to all.
As I got off the bus to check out the famous ivy league school, I immediately felt intimidated just thinking of the brilliant minds of high school presidents, scholars, and more that were surrounding me. I didn't stay for long at the campus since I got really anxious.
At one point, I sat in front of the CU Library to observe my environment until a girl and her friend walked passed me and she told me "I love your haircut!" to which I replied "Th.. thanks!" which basically SHOOK me all the way back to the train station to leave the higher grounds.
Just days left to my trip, I remembered that I should definitely and probably visit Grand Central Terminal. I swear, every historically significant place I walked into felt like walking into a dream. Then again, this whole trip kind of felt that way the whole long.
Inside the terminal, I visited the Transit Museum Gallery, the PIQ Gallery, and a bakery. The place was filled with people, both tourists and New Yorkers with flushed red faces and fast paced walks trying to get to their destinations.
My evening was spent walking the Brooklyn Bridge from New York City Hall to the neighborhood of Dumbo. Side note: I had the most fun editing these photos. I'll let them speak for themselves.
After about 30 minutes, I finished crossing the bridge and stopped by Shake Shack to have a lil' snack, and finished with some vanilla ice cream from the nearby Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Dessert in my hand, I sat down at the pier and reminisced on how far I'd come and how far I've yet to go. I had a feeling that there was still more to see, do, and experience, but I've also heard that New York City is bound to leave you feeling that way.
I wrote a little something that night too before heading home around 10PM.
This is where I realized I am enough and that right now is enough. This is where I feel at peace with myself. Well-balanced.
No more longing for something or someone that isn't there.
Look at you! You went into Shake Shack, sat on a table meant for groups and ate your fries without looking at your phone. Stares go my way, but I don't care, because I'm in NEW YORK CITY!
You are enough and more, and I hope you never forget how amazing you are.
Reading that now; Wow. I really am my own soul mate... go past Lindsey for feeling and writing those words of affirmation!
DAY 12: September 2nd - Out of My Comfort Zone
I woke up not feeling the greatest, so I decided to stay home and be a good mother to my immune system by resting. However, I knew I couldn't waste another day, so I pulled through and decided to meet up with someone I met on Tinder who offered to be my tour guide for a few hours.
Around 6:30PM, I made my way to Prospect Park station after walking around for a bit, since he was running late. I remember receiving his "here!" text and looking to my right to see a tall hipster looking Asian boy with the craziest hair walk towards me with his arms wide open to give me a hug.
It wasn't the nicest of days because it was pouring outside, but before meeting up, he sent me a list of possible options of outings. Naturally, I suggested we should accomplish the whole list, but ended up choosing three options which we made into one: visiting the Oculus, Brookfield Mall, his favourite (reserve) Starbucks, and seeing a movie at Regal Cinemas Battery Park.
It was the first time I've ever been inside a movie theatre which had reclining seats and it made the movie experience so much better. We watched the action movie Atomic Blonde, and though I found the plot confusing, it was definitely empowering to watch a strong female lead. Before arriving at my AirBnB around midnight, I gave Richard a hug as he wished me a good day tomorrow at the Met.
I didn't take any photos today, so here's a photo of my favourite souvenir I bought the day earlier at Grand Central Terminal -- a metro card holder, with an illustration of New York's culture that I love oh so much.
I wrote a journal entry about my thoughts on Tinder that night, but I won't share it, I'll just give a summary. At the end of the day, I was really proud of myself that I didn't flake out and that I did something I never thought I could do, because of social anxiety. I do admit that I was really nervous most of the night, because I don't know how to act around strangers; usually, I like to observe others in a group to catch a vibe before speaking... or I have to gradually get to know you for months.
My view of the app itself was also tried; I knew that if I hated superficiality and always vouch for authenticity and genuine connection, Tinder was the number one place I'd find what I despised. The more I thought about it, the more I could focus on the pros of the app, like meeting people (in general) to accompany you on your adventures. Plus, there are some gems in the ocean of people on the app; so I thought that as long as I can stay true to myself while knowing the nature of how it's supposed to work, I'll be just fine.
DAY 13: September 3rd - The Met Made Me Sneeze
I started my morning at The Met, exploring the wonders of that beautiful museum. My favourite exhibit was.. just kidding, I can't choose my favourite. After two hours of touring just the first floor, I was about done, physically and mentally. I started sneezing a lot (hence the title), but I pushed through to see at least some of the Asian art on the second floor.
Fun fact: Half of my photos from my NY trip were taken in museums, oops.
I walked out of the Met to find myself in sunlight and made my way across the street to Central Park to take a walk in hopes that fresh air would make me feel better. Inside the park, I came across a group of folks polka dancing and sat down for a while to bask in the good vibes.
After less than an hour of exploring the famous park, my body sent my mind signals telling me "Nah dude, you better go home or else you'll get worse," so I made my way back to Brooklyn to start some of my packing since I was sadly leaving in two days. It finally hit me how much I'd miss the place, as I was just getting used to everything. At the same time, I knew that I already had so much to tell about my journey and I was excited to go back home.
DAY 14: September 4th - Who Knew There Was More to Me
I didn't want to explore any place new today, so I decided to visit my favourite spaces after packing some more in the morning. These included Grand Central Terminal, Strand Bookstore, Madison Square Park, and the High Line.
As I first planned the day I stepped into Strand the first time, I knew I'd be back to spend some more time and money in that wonderful shop. For dinner, I had my last round of Shake Shack and wished my farewells at the park. It was golden hour and I was going to meet someone with which I'd walk the High Line, but since it was still early and I had too much money left from being overly frugal (I guess that's a good thing?), I stepped into a Nutella Bar in Eataly (an Italian marketplace) where I had crepes. Not too long after receiving my dessert, an old man asked if he could sit with me and we both bonded over the deliciousness of our food. Before he got up, he told me "I'd better go, so that I don't buy another one. Thanks, darling." :') I LOVE SWEET OLD PEOPLE. Anyways, moving on...
Here we are. The time has come for me to write about this night. The night that started a whole journey of inner destruction to pick on the way I interact with others and the way I knew myself. A few months ago, I probably wouldn't have been able to write about this night, but looking at it in a different perspective, I managed to produce an emotional article I didn't know I could write -- Livin'(L)in Love. A more accurate description of my feelings could be found in that article, but right now, I'll say it as I should have seen it.
Long story short, I decided to spend my last night overlooking the High Line with another stranger. We talked for hours until we were told to leave. At the time, my idea of love was so satisfied, it felt like I was in a dream, so I fell into a trance of my own ideals. It's not the first time I led myself into a situation like this, which is funny, because I wonder why I don't stop myself, but everything happens for a reason, and as always, I'll take what life gives me, even if it means going through an unhealthy cycle.
I remember saying that there was going to be lessons I'd learn after coming back home from New York, and I know that this one was one of them. Nearly 6 months later, I'm just starting to reap the rewards of my lessons and it feels so good to have rebirthed into someone new I can look up to.
They say home is where the heart is & I learned that the only heart I should always trust is my own. My wishes are gone for I've become them. // I realized that I've gone off track here -- if you want to read more about my self-love story, you can click right here.
Back to the NYC narrative, we walked back to the subway station and I gave my usual hug and thank you. At my AirBnB, other than letting butterflies into my stomach, I couldn't sleep until 4AM. The reason being is that earlier in the day, I received an e-mail from my AirBnB host that the apartment had been broken into. Thankfully, nothing of mine had been stolen, but unfortunately, I couldn't get myself to sleep knowing that I think I was probably in the apartment when it happened the night before.
Other than that event, I'd still say this night was a good one. I'm glad it happened (#NOREGRETS) -- for it gave me more than I could ever imagine.
DAY 15: September 5th - I Don't Want to Leave You Too, NYC
At this point in the story, I'm about done. I was supposed to be home today, but ended up waiting at LaGuardia airport for 8 hours, because my flight kept getting delayed until it eventually got cancelled. After waiting forever for the plane, waiting for hotel, taxi, and food vouchers (that I didn't even use because everything was closed by the time I got out of the airport) took another 2 hours.
If I knew my flight was going to be delayed, I would have used the day to explore some more of the city. As much as I love New York, I was worried about already missing my first classes. So frustrating. So hungry. So LIVID. That was the energy of the day.
The only fun part was getting to stay in a fancy-ish hotel room for one night. My inner child was set free. I danced around, sang, jumped on the beds, overused the room's Keurig machine to dispense hot water and make some tea, and ended the night with watching The Help playing on TV.
Here's a lil' dumb video of me that makes me very happy every time I watch it.
DAY 16: September 6th - I Mean, FINALLY!
The theme/title of this day is literally the first line I wrote in my daily journal entry. Seeing the door to the plane open to let people in looked like a miracle considering yesterday's mess. It was really a moment of "Just take me home already!"
Prior to taking off, I actually almost missed my plane, because I ended up dozing off around 4AM the night before to what I thought would be an hour nap, which really turned into me waking up at 9AM, two hours before my plane was set to leave. As soon as I got up, I called a cab then quickly dressed out of my pajamas and packed. Thankfully LaGuardia is a tiny airport and located just 15 minutes from the hotel, so I managed to get through customs and security in a flash.
written on the plane from NYC to Toronto
Leaving New York was so bittersweet (more bitter?). Looking back at the city just brought back all of the wonderful memories I created during my eleven days there. I don't know when I'll be back, but I will be.
New York City, you'll always be in my heart. <3
The race back home didn't end just yet. Once the plane landed in Toronto, I only had 40 minutes to get through customs and security once more to reach the connecting flight, and this time, I had to speed walk my way through a huge airport. For someone who only had a granola bar and an apple in her stomach within the last 24 hours, I was determined.
Jesus came through and I ended up being the last passenger to walk in. They had already gone through the whole safety presentation and were about to close the doors (IT WAS A REAL LIFE 'HOME ALONE' MOMENT). I came up to my seat, panting, as the dude at the window seat next to me said "You made it!" Hell yeah I did.
So I guess that's that. I wrote an article for Spoon University, titled "5 Lessons I Learned From Travelling Solo" that you can check out right here. Most of those epiphanies were written on the 5-hour plane ride back to Vancouver.
It's been a journey both having the opportunity to go on this two week trip of mine and writing about it to share with whoever comes across this article series. This was the trip that triggered the travel bug within me -- after this one, I told myself I would travel solo somewhere at least once a year. It doesn't have to be somewhere far or big, but I have to go alone. I find that the most growth happens then.
excerpt from my closing journal entry
As I was leaving my AirBnB in Park Slope, my roommate told me something so reassuring. She said,
her - "I notice a difference in your voice"
me - "Oh really, what?"
her - "You sound more confident."
"I'm thankful to have gained the insight that there is nothing wrong with me, there is just more to learn about myself."
to more adventures! thank you (readers) for sticking with me and my "storytelling" <3