After my last post I’m sure it will seem like I am a self-hating New Yorker. Definitely not the case. I absolutely love the fact that I have the opportunity to live in one of the best cities in the world. Case in point, where else would you find such a beautiful, simple reminder like this? A few years ago, some magical holiday elf decided to continue the spirit, even after the Christmas trees had all been abandoned. I will never know who created this special moment, but I will never forget the way it lifted my spirits that day.
I absolutely love living in New York City most of the year, but there is one major reason I am dying to become bi-coastal. THE COLD. Now that Spring has arrived it’s easy to forget about the biting cold, the mountain of snow, and the constantly running nose. So this is one of my many reminders to incentivize myself to find a cute little beach hut for those never too far off, long winter months.
Living in a city, it is easy to overlook those everyday places that serve such an important purpose. Millions of people cross through Grand Central Terminal in search of a subway, a train, or even just a dose of fresh oysters. I decided to visit the NYC landmark and take myself out of the race, and just observe. In the midst of the movement and chaos, I found little happy moments like two little girls spinning on the slick marble floor, beautifully detailed lighting, and a gentle rhythm to the constant bustle. It was a simple reminder to take the time and stop every once in a while, to just admire our surroundings.
With a career in travel, there is a definite air of glamour and excitement to my work. Jetting off from country to country for the past year was an incredible experience, as I hiked the Inca Trail in Peru, took an open air jeep safari in India, and discovered the westernmost point of continental Europe in Portugal.
Travel can be exciting, overwhelming, dangerous, magical, and educational, but most of all it is exhausting! After a year on the road I was ready to return home for a while. So I returned to New York City in a strange juxtaposition of past and present. My apartment looks the same as it did one year ago, but there are subtle differences that I notice. My backpack lays forlorn in the corner, my camera is full of past memories, and my brightly hued Sari is folded in my nightstand.
I will never forget this incredible past year and I now have a room full of daily reminders. Will I stay in New York for good, or will I feel the need to hit the road again? After just a few short months here, I am already feeling that familiar itch of the travel bug. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I do know that I will be eternally grateful to myself for taking this leap, and forever changing the course of my life.
I woke up Sunday morning with a huge list of errands to run: laundry, clean my apartment, pick up some items from the convenience store, and then go into Brooklyn to help my sister switch over her closet from summer to winter clothes.
I slowly started my chores, then at around noon I called my sister to see what time I should head over. “Don’t forget there’s a hurricane scheduled for tonight,” she reminded me. “Stock up on some food and water for tomorrow just in case it gets bad.” I laughed her off, reminding her of the Irene scare from last year. New Yorkers (including myself) had panicked at the impending hurricane Irene and had emptied stores in a panic. There were lines to buy up the last flashlights and batteries, and some people even left town. The storm came and most of the city was largely untouched. A bit of rain and light wind were the worst we encountered and everyone felt silly for the huge buildup.
So I was determined not to waste my time this year.
I finished the last of my errands and noticed that people were wandering around my neighborhood looking rushed and worried. The stores were packed and again everyone was buying a weeks worth of groceries. Caving in, I bought a few things that I figured I needed anyways and then headed home before I would leave for Brooklyn. My sister told me to turn on the news.
Hurricane Sandy was heading towards New York with a vengeance, and the mayor had just announced that he would be shutting down the subways by 7 p.m. today and that all residents living in Zone A were being evacuated. I was stunned. Was this actually going to be a serious hurricane? Should I be nervous? My roommate was gone for the weekend so I would be completely alone during the storm. I thought about staying at my sister’s house, but then I realized that she lived a block away from Zone A. Would it be safe at her house?
I decided to weather out the storm alone, figuring that by Monday evening the worst would be over. I was counting on it since my birthday was on Tuesday, and I didn’t want to have to cancel my party. The light of the day was starting to fade, and the subways were now officially closed. I passed the first few hours writing, catching up on some tv shows, and cleaning my apartment. The next morning the skies were still clear and dry, but there air had a strange stillness to it. The storm was expected to hit around midday, and everyone was instructed to work from home if possible. The hours passed by as I continued on with my work, albeit in my pajamas, when suddenly I looked outside. I noticed that although there was no rain or wind, the sky was a strange dark and ominous color. It was quiet. Too quiet.
Then without warning, the wind started up, strong. It came with a force I have never seen before, reported by the news as over 50 miles per hour. The windows were all closed, but they strained against the wind. I could see the struggle as the glass moved like a sheet in the wind, threatening to break. I had never been so scared in my life, alone in that apartment. If the windows broke, I could be swept out into the night like the tree branches now being dragged down the street. It was a sobering thought.
Grabbing my sister’s motorcycle helmet that was stored in my coat closet, I put it on, as a last-minute protection. The lights kept flickering, and the wind sounded like a lawnmower, working right outside my window. Then the sirens started up. I spent that night more awake than asleep pacing between my bedroom and the hallway that held no windows. This was the safest place I had determined and I celebrated my birthday at midnight alone on the hard wood floor, facetiming with my family in Ohio.
The next morning I awoke from my few hours of sleep with the happy realization that I had survived the night, my windows had held up, and it was my birthday! The worst wasn’t over, as the wind was still fierce, but I felt safer in the light of day. Then I turned on the news to see if everyone had been as lucky as I was.
Devastation. Floods. Wildfires.
It was a horrific moment as I watched the disasters that were happening all around me. Breezy Point, Queens had seen 80 homes burnt to the ground. The Jersey Shore and Rockaway Beach had lost their board walks, and Staten Island resembled a war zone. Then the next piece of bad news. Generators around the city had started exploding and Con Ed was shutting down the rest in a pre-mediated move. Most homes below 42nd street would now be without power, heat, and in many cases, water. The city was in pandemonium, transit was shut down, and families wandered homeless through the streets with their children and pets as they pondered their next move. In a giant swell, everyone started heading uptown where there was food, water, and heat, with many banks and stores playing host to these families in need.
Cell phone service was completely shut down below midtown, so emergencies in the flooding zones could not even be called in. Avenue C was underwater, and cars and businesses were destroyed.
I watched all of this on the news as I sat in my heated apartment with the lights on and couldn’t help but feel guilty. I had been spared, while others had not. I decided to walk around my neighborhood, the Upper West Side, and assessed the situation. Outside, the sidewalks were covered in green branches from the nearby trees, and the buildings looked like they had received a fresh scrubbing, but otherwise there was no obvious change. Families wandered around as restaurants and shops began to open their doors. It was business as usual uptown.
As the hours passed, I noticed more and more people with suitcases in tow arriving to our neighborhood. People placed signs outside their buildings offering free outlets to charge cell phones and computers and hot coffee. In this time of need, New Yorkers really banded together, and it warmed my heart to watch my city.
My friend Anna arrived that evening from the east village, normally a 30 minute trip which ended up taking her three hours. Overcrowded buses and limited taxis were the only means of transportation, and many people had to walk on foot to get uptown. She described the scene downtown as apocalyptic, families wandering helplessly through the rubble and destruction. NYU Hospital had been evacuated, with patients being transported down the stairs on sleds, or carried by the tireless hospital staff. Gasoline had become scarce and fights and gun threats were starting to break out at the stations.
Contacting anyone I knew downtown, I offered shelter to some co-workers and their dogs, bringing some life back into my empty apartment. My guilt subsided minutely as I tried to do what I could for those who had lost their homes.
It has been about a week now since the terrible destruction, and for many life is slowly getting back to normal. Many of the trains are running, most of the city has power, and families are returning to their homes. Yet there are huge chucks of New York that are still facing a long road of recovery. Families have lost everything, including the lives of loved ones. New York still needs help, as many people face the approaching winter with no home or belongings.
Please do your part! Donate clothing, food, batteries, flashlights. If you are living in the New York area, volunteer at a shelter, give even just a few hours of your time to help raise funds and distribute goods to these neighbors in need. It might be front page news today, but when the reporters go away, the pain and destruction is still there.
So please, keep New York and the East Coast in your hearts and prayers, as we band together and work towards building a stronger future.
You can find links to photos and more stories about Hurricane Sandy Here:
- Hurricane Sandy batters New York with floods, howling winds (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Effects of Hurricane Sandy (tvaraj.wordpress.com)
- Hurricane Sandy: Aftermath (yourlandmyland.wordpress.com)
- New York City Wakes Up to Fires, Flooding From Hurricane Sandy (bloomberg.com)
- Here’s Proof That Hurricane Sandy Is Nothing Like Irene (mashable.com)
It seems hard to imagine that just one year ago I was working at a fashion house, itching to leave New York and have an adventure.
When I started this blog last July, I had no idea that it would change the entire direction of my life in such a positive way. When I left my job a few weeks later and decided to plunge into the world of freelancing and self employment, I set a goal for myself. I would dedicate the next year of my life to following my dream and passion for travel, fashion, and writing. If at the end of that year I felt that this wasn’t a viable career option, or I just simply couldn’t make things work, I would return back to the world of corporate fashion, and simply remember this year as one of the most exciting times of my life.
Well, its one year later and it has truly been an incredible journey. I have road tripped through Northern India, backpacked through Peru, wandered through Europe, and explored a bit more of my hometown, New York City.
While this year has been more than I could ever have imagined, it is the future that truly excites me now. My trial year has passed and has proven to be a success. Each month brings new and exciting opportunities, and I now know that this is what I want to keep doing, as long as it continues to bring joy to both my life and my readers.
Whats up next:
I am currently on a short layover in London, before my month long trip to Barcelona, Ibiza, and Madrid. I have some really exciting things planned, including a week long teaching stint in the Madrid countryside and a 9 hour ferry ride to the island of Ibiza!
My promise to you:
Now that my trial year is up, I truly feel it is time to take this site to the next level. Over the next few months I will aim to make my site more efficient and reader friendly. If you have any suggestions, or would like to see certain things in my site, please feel free to leave your comments below! I truly enjoy hearing from everyone, and hopefully inspiring a few people out there to travel more and worry less.
In the past eight months I quit my corporate job, started writing about something I was actually passionate about, backpacked through Peru for two months, and organized trips to India and Europe.
I never imagined that following my dreams was actually a viable option, so I would just like to take this moment to thank all you for following along with my travels, adventures, and life discoveries. Its been quite a year, and it just keeps getting better!