Dear New York City,
For as long as I can remember, you have always been a vital part of my life. I may not live directly inside you, but you continue to be there for me no matter what. Every visit has been a joy and has left me with a memory to last a lifetime. Little do you know that without you I wouldn’t be the person I am to date.
I can still remember being seven years old and riding up the enormous escalator into what would soon become one of my biggest passions. I remember the black, white, and yellow walls and decorations leading me up the escalator and into the heart of the beast. I remember leaving school early to embark on an adventure within you that would stay with me forever. The mask that hung magnificently above me would be the only photograph I would take that night. It is a picture that I have since lost physically but also one that I can remember clear as day in my mind. I remember the excitement and amazement I felt sitting in the balcony of my first Broadway show. You, New York City, captivated and caused this wonder. You have given me a love for something that could never have been achieved anywhere else except inside of you. This moment was the beginning of a type of love that stays with a person as they age and the photographs they took as a child begin to fade, and their memories start to multiply.
As I close my eyes I can picture myself standing in a place made of dreams for any little girl. There I am as a child, my hand locked within my mother’s, navigating the gigantic American Girl Doll Store. Every emotion I had before then has led up to this moment. I remember looking at every display with eager eyes wishing and wanting to take everything back home with me. I look back at the pink ice skates I finally decided on for my beloved doll. New York City, it was you who made my childhood dream become a larger than life reality.
I remember the pounding in my head matched with the floats flying in the sky. I was bundled up from head to toe standing shoulder to shoulder on the sidewalk with strangers on Thanksgiving Day. Each float was bigger and better than the next, and my forehead temperature increased another degree as each one moved past. Even with my raging fever, I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. I remember recreating this event, minus my sickness, ten years later. In those ten years, my life has twisted and turned every which way in every different direction; yet your streets have stayed the same in those ten years. This time I revisit the Thanksgiving floats with a friend rather than my family. Yet in those ten years, you have made yourself a part of my family.
I have the incredible ability to simply hop on a train and be back within you anytime I want. On many of these trips I head to the heart of Times Square: a place any true New Yorker calls a death trap. Yet this New Yorker believes you wouldn’t be complete without this destination. Even though my childhood is long gone, Times Square has the ability to instantly bring it back. I enter the majestic doors of the Disney Store and a smile spreads from ear to ear. My friends quickly ignore me and go back to staring at their phones. But I don’t dismiss my surroundings as suddenly as they do. I take in all you have to offer and find myself immersed in the magic only you could behold. After marveling for a few extra minutes, I exit and walk past the Minskoff Theater. This trip down memory lane reminds me of my first show and brings me back to my first home away from home. Filed with nostalgia, I continue walking down 44th and 45th street. I walk past all the other theaters that I have had the pleasure of also calling home during my seventeen years of life. In that moment, I think back fondly to the hours I spent in those lavish plays. I remember the lights flashing outside from the marquee and handing my ticket to the doorman as he returns my smile and greets me inside. I remember sitting in the front row, the last row, and every seat in between. New York City, I still hold every Playbill you have given me as a token to remember the adventures we have experienced together. I continue to constantly look back at these booklets and remember the fantastic times I’ve spent with you.
You have introduced me to new people and have brought me closer to those I already know. Throughout my life, I’ve lost touch with some people I never thought I would lose. Yet memories of you continue to link us together even though we have disconnected. I remember laughing down your streets as we trek to and from opposite ends of your elaborate city. Even though our feet felt as though they were about to fall off, we talked, we walked, we laughed, and we cried and forgot about any feeling that wasn’t absolutely enchanting. All these emotions and more are feelings only felt inside of you. You’re a world all your own that I am proud to be a citizen of.
From the dead of winter to the hottest day of summer, you’ve always been there for me. You’ve inspired my love for art, and since then, have provided me with a profound amount of inspiration.
I truly can’t imagine living without you. Every inch of you holds a new amount of wonder, mystery, adventure, and awe just waiting to be discovered. As I think of my future, I count down the days until we have to say our goodbyes. Nevertheless, I know that even if I leave your city, your city will never leave me.
I love you New York City, thank you for making me who I am.