I was running as fast as I could to my gate. I only had 3 minutes until they would close the door and I wouldn’t make my flight to New York.
I have never had ran faster in my life and barely made it to my seat. The flight attendants added I almost did not make it. I smiled at her and wanted to punch myself in the face. I couldn’t believe I forgot to set an alarm and woke up on my own with ONE HOUR to get to my seat while I woke up sitting in bed. Buckling up, I threw my face into my hands and took the biggest sigh of relief. Trying to settle in and go back to sleep, a wave of anxiety caught up with me and panic began to set it. It escalated as there was turbulence during taking off. The flight attendant asked if I was okay. I was not. I told her I had a lot of anxiety that was making it hard to breathe and making me feel nauseous. I focused on taking slow, deep breaths. I tried to tell myself that it was working. I heard someone asking me if “this will help?” I opened my eyes to see the flight attendant holding two Tito’s vodka mini bottles, a water, and sprite- complimentary. I nodded and said I don’t think it would hurt. It did not. I soon felt just fine and put my headphones in my ears and turned up my apple music where I proceeded to listen to music for the Shaky Beats Music Festival.
I had a connecting flight in Ft. Lauderdale and proceeded to have a breakfast mimosa and hopped on my next flight to New York City.
Excitement grew as I knew we got closer. I started realizing what I was about to embark on. My first solo adventure in a place I have never been, The Big Apple. We prepared for landing and once we did, I grabbed my spirit-approved personal item and power walked myself to where I could call a Lyft to take me to my Air BnB.
Waiting for my driver to arrive, I stood and took in the crisp New York air and couldn’t wipe off the smile from my face. I was happy, I was also shaking with anxiety. I don’t mean that as a figure-of-speech either. I mean, if I held my hand out, I literally was shaking like I needed my 8th cup of coffee.
I got into my Lyft and what was only a 15-minute drive, took an hour and fifteen minutes, but I didn’t mind. It allowed for me to look at all around me and see the city. There were so many tall concrete and glass skyscrapers. The most city I have ever seen. I love skylines, and this was the most fucking beautiful one I have ever laid eyes on. I felt tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, it made me emotional. The impact of the scenery, the wonder of what life was happening in each building, on the streets. So much organized chaos. We got to Lexington Avenue and that is when I learned I was staying in Harlem. On the map, I saw Central Park close by, and it was, but it was also Harlem. I wondered what that meant for me taking the Subways. I walk up to the door of where the unit I was staying at was. There were a barber shop and a beauty shop on each side of the apartment entrance. I was buzzed in. It was exactly what I would have expected for a New York apartment to look like. The heavy doors, and big brass locks. The mailboxes up front, and a small narrow spiral staircase with big beige doors. I was staying in apartment 3C. I was let in and I saw that I would have 3 roommates and I had a bottom bunk. I was excited that I was already going to be meeting new people. However, they were all out, and with the time I had remaining before my dinner reservation, I decided to shower and get ready for my Friday night in New York.
My First Night out in New York was magical. I wore a black lace romper with long sleeves and no pants with my merlot faux fur bomber jacket. I was so nervous to walk to the subway, my hands were sweating. With all the courage I had, I left the apartment and walked out onto the street, in Harlem. The guy in the barber shop said I looked sexy. Thanks. I kept walking. I took a left and headed towards the 103 Subway 6 train station. Following my google maps directions, it said that I had arrived at the station and I looked for proof. I don’t know what I was looking for, but I did not see the Subway. Trying not to low key panic, I looked to my left and saw two girls and asked if they knew where the Subway station was. They pointed right across the street, in front of me. I guess I expected it to be more visible, but all it was was a stairway to the underground. At that point, I laughed at myself as it was now obvious that the Subway was in fact underground and here I was expecting a MARTA station like the ones in Atlanta.
I made my way on my heels down into the Subway and struggled to get my own Metrocard. An old white-haired man came up to me and told me the machine was broken and he’d be happy to use his card for me. As soon as I was on the other side of the gate, the man had to tell me how nice my legs were. I thanked him and tried to lightheartedly tell him I work out and created space between him and me swiftly. By the subway, it was just as you would imagine, there were subway tiles, dirty, dark, and damp. All kinds of people were pouring into the station for the next train. I anxiously waited, repeating the directions over and over. 5 stops, get off at the 59th street stop.
There was nowhere to sit, so I stood and held on. It was fast and took a lot of strength not falling around the pole in my heels. I held on strong. We got to 59th street and I got off and walked up to the street and headed down 60th street towards Serendipity where I would have dinner.
Growing up, my sisters, mom and I would watch over and over the movie: Serendipity. We loved the love story based on fate and couldn’t get enough of it. I was so excited to now finally get a chance to go to the actual restaurant where they filmed the movie. Walking to the restaurant, it was cool to see how this part of New York was different from where I just took the subway from. The architecture, the street art, to the shopping, New York was so magically different from street to street. Finally arriving to Serendipity, I walked through their doors and got my reservation. They sat me by myself in front of a hot pink wall with circle fishbowl mirrors. It was extremely whimsical in that room with chandeliers and all things hanging from the ceiling. It had a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Alice in Wonderland feel to it. The waiter was super nice and even gave me some free carrot cake- my favorite! I was really enjoying New York, and this solo adventure thing was way more enjoyable than stressful as I thought it would have been!
Everyone harped on my safety prior to coming to New York, and I could see now that most people are nice, and so am I! I am a big believer in the law of attraction and remembered that like attracts like and said to myself, bring it on all the positivity!
Finishing up with dinner, I walked back to the Subway to get closer to the Gershim Theater where I was going to see the Broadway show: Wicked. In high school, I was in show choir/glee club. We sang all songs and defying gravity was one of them. That is when I fell in love with the music of Wicked. Words could never describe my excitement as I was getting closer to my stop to get off the subway. When I did, I popped up in the middle of Time Square and almost couldn’t contain myself. I had a grin on my face that wouldn’t leave, smiling ear to ear. I gazed up towards the tops of the buildings and couldn’t believe how many there were. It was amazing and the view gave me butterflies. Sun was setting, and the colors from the sun on the buildings were gorgeous. I captured some photos really quick to try and capture the moments without taking away from me being in the moment.
I was floating on air, walking clouds. I was in New York City. People were walking around, cold, and I couldn’t even feel “cold.” I was over the moon, and block by block, I grew closer to the Gershim Theater. I took a left, and there it was, all lit up in all its glory. I had made it to the theater and found a place in one of the lines.
I will not do this part of the story justice as Wicked BLEW ME THE FUCK AWAY. I can not articulate anything about it. I am still speechless to this day. I will say I did cry at the inevitable Defying Gravity and then For Good. Because of this moment, I am forever changed. See it for yourself and you will know what I mean!
Seriously, Changed for GOOD!
After Broadway, I was felt so good I couldn’t undo such a feeling with some trivial weekend drinking. I decided to get back to my Air BnB to get to bed at a decent hour so I could wake early and have a full day tomorrow and end my New York trip with a bang of a night out. Making my way back to the Subway, I was trying to savor my battery since it literally had 4% left. Before I dove down back into the underground, a guy asked if he could take my picture of me, I obliged:
That is all my phone wrote that night, as it died. This forced me to then find my way back to Harlem with my common sense and my smarts. That being said, I learned quickly that while I was on the correct subway, I was going in the wrong direction-towards Brooklyn. Luckily, as soon as I felt some concern in my gut, I jumped off the train. Nervous at 11:35PM on a New York Friday, I searched for a smart and safe option to ask for some directions, some guidance. I was helped and found my way back to Harlem. What was a 22-minute subway trip, took me an hour to find my way back. I saw parts of the city because I got lost, and it wasn’t a bad thing I was lost, in fact, I felt like I was on the right path and took all surroundings around me in as I made my way back into the apartment. It was a perfect day. I fell in love with New York and every building that stood in that city. I wanted to know every part of it that I could. I floated like a feather in the air right into my bunk bed and as soon as my head hit the pillow I was asleep.
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