Two years in New York City

Weirdly enough, when I was first preparing to move to New York City, my number one concern was about making friends.

This was the third big move I would make as an adult, after six years in Phoenix and a whopping two months in Orlando. After both of those moves, it took me a lot of time to find my “squad,” as the kids are calling it these days. I’m pretty timid by nature, and I’m also an introvert – meaning I’m more inclined to spend my weekends watching Netflix than out at the bars. But after so many nights in a row, that can get real old – and lonely.

I didn’t want to experience loneliness in New York City, which is often called the most lonely city in the world. Ironic, considering the population is over 8 million. But when you’re surrounded by so many strangers, a lack of friendship can really stand out. As I said goodbye to my people in Phoenix, I vowed that I wouldn’t experience that loneliness again: I was going to put myself out there, to attend events and have experiences and meet interesting people along the way.

New York City as seen from the Top of the Rock

I’m not sure I really believed it myself, but New York was what I had always dreamed of, and I didn’t want to mess it up. I wanted to be happy, and I wanted real friends.

A week and a half into my new stint as a New Yorker, I visited a church. It was hard: It seemed like everyone knew each other. I said hello to a handful of very nice people, sat through worship, and went home. But even though it was hard, I did it again and again, week in and week out, until it wasn’t as hard. And before I knew it, I realized that I wasn’t anxious anymore. Every week I would see someone I recognized – and they recognized me too.

Two years later, these people are more than a squad – they’re my family. Earlier this month we all boarded a plane to the Bahamas together and did nothing but lie on the beach and drink tequila for three days. But it’s not just about the vacations. The truth is, living in New York is hard – but these people make it seem easy. When my pipes froze and I didn’t have water for two days, someone let me shower at her apartment and come over whenever I had to use the toilet (glamorous, right?) When my sister was sick, a group came over and cooked me dinner and did my dishes. They’re the first to hug me when I’m sad and cheer with me when I’m happy.

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Last year on this date, I wrote what was more or less a love letter to New York City. This year, I know that the city is great but the people are better. Moving here was the second best thing I ever did; putting myself out there and building a community was the first.

Happy anniversary, New York!

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A long weekend in the Bahamas

About eight weeks ago, I got a Facebook message from my friend Auston: Airfare to the Bahamas was on sale, did anyone want to join him for a long weekend in March? The catch was that we had to book that evening, before fares skyrocketed again. I’m pretty sure he didn’t think anyone would commit, but last Friday 11 of us rocked up to JFK and flew to Nassau, where we spent three days bonding in a beachfront condo. AKA the perfect weekend with the perfect crew!

Beachfront condo in Nassau, BahamasSunrise on the beach in Nassau, Bahamas

Our condo literally could not have been closer to the beach, and was outfitted with two decks and a swimming pool (which I was definitely thrown into in the middle of the night after a few too many drinks). This was my first trip to the Caribbean, let alone the Bahamas, and I was blown away by how clear the water was! I also got the watch the sunrise every morning from my bed. NBD.

Best friends in Nassau, Bahamas

I was so excited my best friend Emmie came along as well. We’re pretty much attached at the hip but this was our first vacation together!

Downtown Nassau, BahamasSunset in Downtown Nassau, Bahamas

We did spend one day (the rainiest one, conveniently) exploring downtown Nassau. Or at least, exploring the Bahamian bars. The vibe is so different from New York City but I was obsessed with the shacks, the ocean views and even the kitschy tourist traps.

Nassau, Bahamas

The best part of the weekend in the Bahamas, besides the quality time with my favorites, was getting to break out swimsuits and dresses. The weather was my definition of perfect, and I got more fresh air in those three days than I had in months. I also was one of the only few to escape without a sunburn! Thanks for the adventure, Bahamas – I’ll be back!

Follow my adventures in real time here.

Catching up via Instagram: 2/21/16

Believe it or not, between my little getaways to DC and Dallas and San Francisco (right now!), I’ve actually spent quite a bit of time hanging out in NYC this winter! The weather has been weird – record-breaking (and pipe-breaking) cold followed by 50-degree days the same week. It’s made getting dressed every day an adventure, to say the least. Alas! I’ve been having tons of fun this winter (weird, I know), and here’s a little peek!

Donuts from Holey Cream NYC

My roommate’s cousins recently stayed with us and treated us to donuts from Holey Cream in Hell’s Kitchen – delicious! This spot is actually known for donut ice cream sandwiches, which I’m dying to try out in the summer time!

Books and magazines

I’ve slowed down on my reading a bit, but there’s still so much I’m excited to dive into, and I just loaded up my Kindle with books I’m itching to read (including my own copy of All the Light We Cannot See – the physical copy from the library was just to cumbersome to carry around and I didn’t finish it before the due date!)

Cheesecake from Mayfield, Crown Heights, Brooklyn

In a desperate attempt to catch up in between our travels, my best friend and I grabbed dessert one night at our favorite neighborhood spot . To be honest, the cheesecake wasn’t the best, but Emmie loooooved her brownie ice cream sandwich!

Galentine's Day in Queens, NYC

Speaking of Emmie, by some miracle we were both free the night of our friend group’s annual Galentine’s Day celebration! We braved the cold, split a couple cabs and spent a night eating, playing games and taking pictures with our girlfriends.

The Painted Pot, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

On Presidents Day, a few of us were going to visit the Transit Museum, but were disappointed to find out it’s closed on Mondays. Instead, we headed to the Painted Pot in Carroll Gardens to channel our inner children! I’m anxious to see how that bowl looks once it’s been finished at the studio…

Snow in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

After painting, we walked to dinner – even though we could have taken the train one stop, we wanted to admire and take photos of the snow! (OK, OK. They wanted to. But I did get a good picture, so whatever.)

Beer in a stein from Strand Books, NYC

This week was National Wine Day, but I’m more of a beer girl myself. My friend Kelli got me this stein for Christmas from the Strand, a famous bookstore here in New York. I love how it combines my love of beer and books!

Golden Hour in Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Finally, we’ve been enjoying some spring-like weather, and I couldn’t help but admire the morning light on my walk to the train this week. Really I’m just excited that it’s light out when I’m commuting now!

What have you been up to lately? I’m in San Francisco until Thursday, then I’ll be back in NYC for some more adventures at home!

 

Central Park in the winter

I’m no stranger to Central Park: I’ve admired the springtime blossoms, sweltered under the summer sun, frolicked in the autumn leaves. But somehow, in nearly two years of living in NYC, I had never been to Central Park in the winter – until last week.

Tavern on the Green, Central Park NYC in the winterCentral Park NYC in the winter

Honestly, I never saw a reason to visit Central Park in the winter. It’s freezing cold, for one, and I don’t do winter well. And without leaves on the trees (or on the ground), and it being too chilly to hang out with a book, well, I just didn’t see the point. But my sweet friends Nicole and Parisa visited recently, and Parisa had never been to Central Park before – so off we went, taking the C train to 72nd Street and working our way downtown.

Central Park NYC in the winterCentral Park NYC in the winterCentral Park NYC in the winterCentral Park NYC in the winter

And I was so surprised by how beautiful it was! The trees were bare, yes, and the sky was cloudy this particular afternoon, trapping us in cold air, but there was something just really lovely about the gray of nature against the gray buildings against the gray sky. For about 30 minutes, until we couldn’t feel our toes and ducked into the shops at Columbus Circle for warmth.

Columbus Circle NYC in the winterColumbus Circle NYC in the winterFriends at Central Park NYC in the winter

What’s your favorite season to visit Central Park – or any park?

Washington D.C. in photos

When I was planning my recent trip to Washington D.C., there was very little I definitely had to do or see. I’ve heard from many people – basically anyone who’s been – that there is so much ground to cover in D.C. that I’d have no chance of seeing everything in a mere three days. So aside from two requests – a nerdy journalism venture to the Newseum and a nostalgic meal at Nando’s – I decided to leave myself at the mercy of my host and good friend Courtney, who has visited D.C. countless times and moved there in November.

The White House, Washington DC

The White House

The Washington Monument on a foggy day, Washington DC

The Washington Monument

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

The Lincoln Memorial

The many monuments along the National Mall were, of course, a priority. Our designated sight-seeing day turned out to be foggy and dreary (oh, east coast winters), but it was still cool to see things that I’d only ever seen in photographs. The Lincoln Memorial, especially, is so much grander in person that I could have ever imagined. I can’t wait to go back in the spring and check out the views from the back of the memorial – I’ve heard they’re incredible, but we couldn’t even see across the river last weekend.

Sunset on the National Mall, Washington DC

Naturally, the next day – originally forecasted as a rainy one – was mostly sunny and clear, so we went back to the Mall for sunset.

Front pages at the Newseum, Washington DC

The Newseum, of course, was heaven for a nerdy writer like me. I could have spent days there, and in fact might get myself a membership next time. (It pays for itself in three visits, and I can see this being a stop every time I’m in town!) Here, all of the day’s front pages are displayed. It was a really interesting day to go, as we were smack in the middle of NFL playoffs, and it was also the day after Rolling Stone published Sean Penn’s interview with El Chapo. There was a really interesting mix of front pages!

Chinatown, Washington DC

Chinatown

Nando's, Washington DC

Nando’s is a chicken restaurant founded in Johannesburg, and it would be an understatement to say I became addicted when traveling in Africa last fall. Tragically, there are no locations in New York, but there are many in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia region. I dragged Courtney and her fiance here for lunch one day and was pretty much the happiest person on earth.

The Washington Monument, Washington DC

Thanks for having me, Courtney! And thanks to JJ for putting up with my presence on his couch all weekend. I can’t wait to come back and explore more of D.C.!

What did I miss that you think I absolutely need to see next time? For more on my Washington trip, see my video here.