I go to Paris, I go to London, I go to Rome, and I always say, ‘There’s no place like New York. It’s the most exciting city in the world now. That’s the way it is. That’s it.’
– Robert De Niro
The hustle and bustle of people at all hours of the night, the shiny skyscrapers that you can’t get a glimpse of without squinting into the sun, the melting pot of all the world’s cultures in one little island. Yes, New York City is that tempting Big Apple that everyone wants to take a bite out of.
I was one of those people when I moved to New York City five years ago, and no matter how long I’ve been away, this place will always have a special place in my heart. It’s the first city I lived in after college and I would almost say that this is where my adult years began, but then again post-college life in New York was too much of a crazy circus act for me to feel like I was a real adult.
My recent visit to New York was my first time back in one year. It’s the longest time I’ve been away and it was strange to look at this city again through the eyes of an outsider. It wasn’t my New York anymore, but it will always be home to some fond and hilarious memories. So I took a stroll down Memory Lane to relive some funny and ridiculous memories in New York City.
As much as I hate to admit it, It embarrassed me at first to whip out my camera and take photos of NYC. In my head I was thinking, “I’m not a tourist. This is my city. I have the driver’s license after waiting in line for hours on three separate occasions at the Manhattan DMV to prove it!” (Note: the Manhattan DMV is the worst place on earth). Of course I ended up looking like one and snapped away as if I hopped right off a tour bus. I still regret trying to act too cool not photographing some of the places I’ve seen a million times.
Revisiting my old haunts was so much fun; I walked around so much that I could barely move after my trip. Step into my mind for a second and see some memories New York City holds for me.
Late nights in Union Square
Union Square brings back so many memories. I used to live right along the square when I interned in NYC and when I moved back after graduation I couldn’t settle for anything further than walking distance from the area. There’s always something going on in Union Square.
I’ve eaten many a late night pizza slice in Union Square. This is where one night I was chatting with a friend on a bench when a man approached giving a very detailed story about how he had come to the city to be an extra in a Verizon commercial and somehow didn’t have any money to return home with his girlfriend. He asked for a few dollars and when we gave him the fare he asked for, he walked away, passed it to his girlfriend and continued approaching others in the park. I truly believed he needed assistance! Rookie mistake on my part, but hey, it was a newbie at the time.
Walking along the High Line
A park built on old, elevated train tracks, the High Line is one of my favorite places in the city because it’s so unique! Not every city has a park like this. Though it gets crowded, it’s so fun and relaxing to walk through part of the city and see it from above.
The High Line is the #1 place I always took friends who visited me. There are no embarrassing stories here – at the boozy brunch restaurants and clubs in the Meatpacking District below the park, yes – but the High Line itself only brings back sweet memories. As I walked alone through the park, I could almost see faded images of my friends posing for photos as they experienced it for the first time. It was enough to put a smile on my face.
Awkward encounters in Central Park
I almost forgot to visit Central Park this time, if you can believe I overlooked a park that spans 50 city blocks!
This would be where I once stared down a giant raccoon, went to a concert-date and ended up meeting the guy’s parents when he forgot to tell me they would be joining us (surprise!), and filmed my audition tape for The Bachelor (I hope this NEVER resurfaces). Did I mention my life in New York City was a circus act?
I can’t help it; I love Central Park. It’s the one place in New York where you can almost forget you’re surrounded by an enormous city. If those trees could talk, I’m sure they’d have much juicier stories than my own!
East Village apartment life
This is my ‘hood. The home of the two apartments I lived in during my near 4-year stint living here. The neighborhood in which I caught my first (and second) mouse, where I woke up to water pouring onto my bed from the bathroom in the unit above mine, where I had to call the fire department when my neighbor almost burned down my building (NYC firefighters really are a handsome bunch), and where I accidentally locked myself out about five times (four of which I had to pay over $100 to get in, the last was free because the locksmith took pity on this accident-prone girl). The East Village and I, we’ve been through the wringer together.
But everything I ever needed to survive in New York was here. My regular bagel joint, Japanese grocery store, brunch spot, gym, froyo place, my favorite bars, everything. I also used to volunteer to play sports with kids on Saturdays at a school in the rougher parts of the East Village, sparking my interest in teaching English in Spain. The making of my future started here.
Gosh, this place just brings back so many memories that I want to be back in my second apartment, a charming little studio, right now. Wait, no I don’t; I can’t afford the rent anymore!
I have fond and funny memories scattered all over New York City. A few days visiting friends and family just wasn’t enough to relive all my past in this brilliant city. This visit and trip down Memory Lane induced a sense of belonging to this place. At that time, I wanted so much more for my life and couldn’t wait to leave, but it turns out life in New York City wasn’t so bad after all.