Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy first birthday, dear blog

A year ago today, I posted my first Blackberries to Apples post. At that time I had already bought my one-way ticket to NYC, and I was so so excited for the big move. I knew that I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but after nearly a full year in the city, I now realize that back then I didn't (and couldn't) fully realize just how little of an idea I had. I was a different person a year ago - and though I was younger and more naive, I was also, in a weird way, more sure of myself. Even though I had no job, no place to live, and no idea what the fuck I thought I was doing moving to the craziest city in America with nothing but two suitcases and a dream, I knew myself better than I feel I do now.

My initial concept for this blog was to give advice to other young people dreaming of New York - how to pack for the move, how to find an affordable apartment and roommates, what to do with yourself once in the city, etc. But the blog quickly evolved, naturally I think, to encompass a more broad and personal spectrum of how the move to the city affected me. Over the course of the last year, I lost sight of some of the things I thought I knew about myself, and I learned some new things about myself I never had sight of in the first place.

But one thing I do know for sure is that this blog - and you guys, my readers - have been there with me through the entire process. On one hand it's kind of strange to know that there are a few hundred people I've let in on my personal trials over the past year, and on the other hand, it feels totally natural, reassuring and comforting. I can't even count how many times I've asked myself what currently gives my life the most meaning and the answer has been writing this blog. That might sound stupid, but writing is everything to me; it has been since I was a little girl penning songs about cats who live in San Francisco - my first real memory of writing anything - and novellas about running the mile in elementary school. To know that I can create something, that I can write something that other people enjoy reading, is enough to bring me to tears because it's all I ever really wanted to do in life.

I pondered for a while about how I should wrap up a year of life in one post. I thought briefly about a month-by-month recap, but decided against it because snore who cares. (If you want to find out what I did each month since I started BtoA, you can click through old entries.) I decided instead to honor my first year of blog life with a slideshow of some of my favorite photo memories from posts past, as well as a sort of stream of consciousness list - which I started writing in La Guardia airport last week - that summarizes my first year in New York.

New York means...
- Solo cups on subways
- stupid late nights
- bars that close at 4 in the morning, or don't close at all
- laying in Central Park looking at the sky
- the smile of a stranger
- the help of a stranger
- my landlord yelling at his brother or mother or friend early on a Sunday morning
- snow falling outside my window
- creaky old wooden front doors
- stairs
- stoops
- snow crunching under boots
- seeing the Empire State Building from an unlimited number of vantage points
- building a life puzzle with the grid system, pieces slowly falling together and clicking into place
- watching the city blow by through bus windows
- seeing people less fortunate than me everywhere, and people more fortunate than me everywhere
- the skyline from Brooklyn
- the skyline from Jersey
- eating ice cream out of cups on sidewalks
- free mimosas with brunch
- lox and cream cheese bagels
- no money
- no space
- kissing
- wind blowing in my hair
- the chick-chick-chiiiiiick of cab meters printing receipts
- music in the subways
- a monster in my bed
- dancing 'til it hurts
- gays
- smoking cigarettes outside with strangers
- taking a cab I can't afford
- forgetting what I can't afford
- Lady Gaga
- golden leaves in Central Park
- swimming in Harlem
- writing in coffee shops
- dogs everywhere
- stray cats everywhere
- love lost and gained and lost again
- crouching in the middle of Houston Street
- pizza
- tears on trains
- Mariah Carey
- street fairs
- straws
- picnics
- heartbreak
- growing up
- Harlem
- avoiding manholes in sidewalks
- crowded subway cars
- ghost subway stations
- Grand Central
- crazy people
- whiskey and beer

Writing this now, I'm overwhelmed with the sense that this past year has been extremely bittersweet. Really sweet at times, really bitter at others. It's been hard. But everything I've been through has helped me to grow, and the happy times have made me fall deeper and deeper in love with New York. Thanks for reading everyone. On to year two, with hope.

Hanging around Broadway, and I think I saw your face...
Cars speeding by me, reminding me of us,
Shuffle down to the watering hole,
Getting tired and I want to go home...
I don't know where that is anymore
I don't know where that is anymore
I don't know where that is anymore


  1. HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY. I'm approaching my second blog birthday in 5 days and realizing just how much crazier life has gotten. If I can give you one piece of advice it's this - DON'T STOP - anything, really :)

  2. Happy birthday, doll. You're blog is all growed up.

    I'm loving the the slideshow and thelist, especially the last three items in sequence.

    Grand Central
    Crazy People
    Whiskey and Beer.

    Yup. That's a NY poem in three lines.

    I will leave you with this:

    "There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter--the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last--the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion."

  3. Ah, yes. I've heard that quote before. Who is it from again?

    Loves it.

  4. "Here is New York" by E.B. White.

    The honesty kills me.

  5. New York, much to my dismay, has become the city of hate as it always was. After 9/11 people came together and the outlook was changed, albeit for a short while. Many things were written to that effect and the hope was that the atmosphere of friendship will continue. NOT SO AT ALL. I have gone to NYC many times and every time I visit it gets worse than ever before. It gets tougher to get around, people are less friendly, the filth and the ugliness increases, and the daily joy of waking up and being alive is taken out by yet another humiliating experience. It’s Very sad.