It’s Mother’s Day, and I am “Up in the Air”, as is my life these days. Always on a plane heading somewhere. This is NOT a complaint, by the way-the travel bug bit me a few years ago and it’s never going away. I am flying somewhere over the East Coast and I’m on the way home to surprise my momma and see the rest of the family. And because I have a few hours to kill, I figured now is as good a time as ever to write my first blog post*.
First, I can’t believe its May. 2015 has flown too quickly, and I have found it hard to find the time to get this blog up and running. Which, scares me by the way, because blogging is supposed to be consistent and I make no promises here! But, I felt me moving to NYC was too good enough of an experience, for me NOT to document it. So- here goes.
On January 15th, 2015, I swapped out my chancletas for boots, bikinis for scarves and boarded a plane “In a New York Minute.” With 8 suitcases in tow, I followed my lifelong dream of living in what I believe to be, the best city in the world. It is a city that time and time again has taken over my soul.
A little history on me and my crazy move: When I was 17 years old freshly out of high school, my mom asked me to replace her as a “chaperone” on my little sister’s 5th grade graduation trip to New York City. I had only known New York through movies (Sleepless in Seattle, Serendipity, When Harry Met Sally, etc.) and was beyond ecstatic to go! I still remember the first time we arrived into the city and I stepped foot in Times Square. I was blown away by the monstrosity of the city, but also taken back by all the incredible energy and diversity of the people in it. I wondered how in almost 18 years of existence, I had NEVER been to this amazing city. On that trip, I knew that I would one day live in this magnificent place.
Fast-forward to college and my first semester as a University of Florida Gator, I met Nicole. We were both pursuing careers in Broadcast Journalism and had a few of the same classes. We had a lot in common. She was also from Miami (this is a big deal when you move to a small town like Gainesville, by yourself), we had mutual friends in common and shared a passion for dancing, hip-hop, fashion, the Gators, clubbing, Halloween, and she was, like me, the girliest of girls. Over the years we shared a lot of memories at UF together.
During the time at UF, I attended a study abroad program in Spain the same summer, smuggled a puppy into the U.S. (long story) and had some pretty nutty adventures in Barcelona & Valencia. Our study abroad memories will go down in history. But little did we know, that was just the beginning of where our friendship!
I’ve visited NYC back and forth various times since then. I’ve always found a reason or excuse to go. Being that I’m in the Public Relations field, my work took me to NY a lot. After all, it is the media capital of the world! But, whether for work or play, I made sure to come back on a consistent basis. I was also lucky enough to have my amazing cousin live there for many years and I can tell you that every amazing New York City experience and many of my “NYC firsts” have been with him.
This was circa 2003. Augie, Joe & I having pizza at place that used to be an old gothic church. Have so many crazy memories in NYC from this trip!
This includes the first time I saw snow, attending a Miami Dolphins & New York Jets game and my first Broadway show as an NYC resident! Also, getting my finger smashed in a door at a club & drinking my first "Manhattan Cocktail"- just to name a few.
In fact, I don't have a memory of NY, that doesn't include him in it. His apartment was always my landing pad for my weekend getaways. I can’t thank him enough for always being so hospitable and welcoming. I have had so many amazing experiences in NYC thanks to Augie and for that I am forever grateful. A few years after college, Nikki and I planned our first trip to NYC together. It was one of our random “twenty-something” birthdays. We were total tourists, and of course we did what every group of girls did while visiting NYC during that time- we took a tour of everyone’s favorite TV, “Sex & The City”. We sipped Cosmos, stopped at Carrie Bradshaw’s brownstone for pics and had our first taste of Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes (I have been hooked on Magnolia since that trip). When that trip came to an end, we vowed one day, to live in NYC!
My decision to make a bold move and pack up everything (almost everything, my poor parent’s garage has been taken over by stuff I just couldn’t bring with me), and never look back was a long time coming. This has been my dream for years. There has NEVER been a time I visited NYC without coming home, wanting more. Every time I was there, I never wanted to leave. And every time I came back home, I left wanting more.
Miami has and always will be “home”, but it was time for a change. It’s not that I don’t love Miami. I do. It’s a great city, but the superficiality of it, mixed with the same “scene” over time, became routine. I basically became bored with the city and it’s lack of adventure. Sorry Miami, I still love your croquetas, Cuban food & proximity to the Florida Keys.
I needed to come to a place with no judgment, a city I could get lost in every day, discover new concepts, meet new, diverse, eclectic people and write a new part of my journey.
Women all the time, joke around about New York City being their boyfriend. And I totally get it now. New York City became my crush. I contsantly thought about it, missed it when it was far and it essentially became my "Day Dream."
There were many reasons I put this off. Whether because of family members- (we all know Cuban parents, they’d build you an efficiency in their house once you got married, so you’d never leave their side); or past relationships (you know that boyfriend you had for years in your 20’s and thought they were it?); or just the fear that comes from the unknown. There’s a scary feeling that comes with leaving what’s familiar and comfortable, for the unkown, for fear of failing miserably. I felt like a hostage to Miami, even though the only real person holding me back, was staring right back at me in the mirror.
I took control of my destiny and decided- this was it. I planned a trip to NY with Nikki and after what seemed like 100 apartments in a span of 3 days, we picked a place. A month later, I was packing my apartment up for what would be the boldest move thus far. A one-way ticket to the city the never sleeps. And I’ve never looked back.
Lighting a candle at St. Patrick's Cathedral after applying for our apartment & leaving a deposit. It's the Cuban abuela's in us. Prendele una velita a San Judas! Hey, it doesn't hurt! Thanks to Augie, who snapped this pic!
I came back home to Miami and had to break the news to my family. Now, if you know me, you know, I am super close to my crazy "Que Pasa USA" family. I ADORE my family. In fact, if there is one thing I miss the most about Miami, it's my family and close friends. But the person I was scared as hell to tell was my abuelo. He had been sick for quite some time, and we knew he was on "borrowed time"- meaning at any given moment, he could go. It was a risk I took, moving away before he passed away. But I realized, time was ticking. It was now or never. I could not wait around to pursue my dreams.
Here is a picture we took, moments after me breaking the news. I needed my brother there for moral support.
He understood and like the supportive abuelo he always was (whether he agreed with it or not)- he stood by my side. Abuelo told me how he remembers leaving Cuba, his home, his family, his friends, and every piece of article he owned, in search of a better life and opportunities. And so, he could not be upset with me for doing the same. Five months later, he passed away while I was traveling on a work trip. I was so upset for not being by his side, but this was a reminder that regardless of how much we try to control our lives, sometimes, it's simply out of our hands. Whether I had been living in Miami or not, the universe did not allow me to be by his side at his time of passing. I miss him every day, but I wake up and go to sleep every night, knowing he is watching over me as I journey on my adventures (especially riding these crazy Citi Bikes in this town. Blog post on that coming soon).
One thing I’ve learned over the years (knowledge & experience are the two things that I can actually appreciate about this aging process, these slight wrinkles developing around my eyes are not), is that you have to do what’s good for YOU- whether that makes the people you love, happy or not. There are points in your life when sometimes, you have to be selfish with yourself and quiet the naysayers. You know those people, they love you, they have your best interest in mind, but they try to talk you out of living your dreams, and call you “crazy”, simply because they want you close, or because they have no interest in what moves YOU.
Life is a journey. It is YOUR individual journey; you get to choose where it will take you. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to understand your journey- and that’s OK. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours.
I know I want to come to the end of my journey with NO regrets. That meant fulfilling this crazy dream, however long it takes. One of my favorite quotes that inspires me all the time is from Elizabeth Gilbert, from her journey “Eat, Pray, Love”:
“I've come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call "The Physics of The Quest" — a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: "If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself... then truth will not be withheld from you." Or so I've come to believe.”
And what you gain on the journey is far more important than what you lose. So, here I go....
I am almost 6 months in, and already discovered so much! But, there is still so much more to discover. Follow along as we discover all this crazy city has to offer!
*Sidenote: So, it’s actually July 2nd, 2015- and it took me 2 months to finalize this post- but mainly I was waiting for someone to dig through his old pics, because I could not possibly write my first post without the appropriate pics to tell the story. Enjoy!