New York New York
Its been one week back in Kansas City and I haven't gone a day--no, hour-- without thinking of my trip to New York. The diversity of the people, the streets, the buildings and everything that they contain (or can't contain). I love the way the scenery changes at nearly every block. How everyone is from somewhere there or somewhere else, yet everyone is at home in such a giant city. I haven't spent a lot of time in major cities due to the lack of camping (let's be real- cheap) and nature to absorb myself into. I've been to LA, unimpressed and overwhelmed. Auckland was hot and hilly, Phoenix.. (don't even get me started). Minneapolis charmed me in a day, San Fransisco enticed me for an hour. Denver invited me in warmly so close to home. But I've always preferred the mountains, beaches or the forests to get away. New York has a lot of hype. I've heard about the magic of the city from friends and in movies, often so decorated that I was sure there was a catch. I was sure I would hate the heat and the people and the lack of nature. I was sure I could never live there.
Now? Now I've been all over Manhattan and Brooklyn and I didn't hate it. Contrary, I loved it. Every single second of it. Minus the second where my wallet was lost/stolen on the first night I was there... with all of my money and ID with it. Ian (enter Ian, stage right. photo 22 below) and I had been exploring around Manhattan all day-- eating pizza in the park, walking the High Line, grabbing drinks when we hopped off. As I tried my best to cope with the loss of all of my money and credit cards, Ian tried his best to make me feel better. And he did, with kind words and a couple of moscow-mules. He took care of everything the rest of the trip and I had the best time.
We walked the High Line at night, which turned out to be the absolute best time to- beating the heat and seeing the city lit up at night. The High line is a park in West Manhattan, built on a historic freight rail line. It weaved in and out of buildings as it stretched in front of us, the lights of New York in every direction.
The next morning Ian brought me bagels in bed with strawberry cream cheese. I had the best noodles of my life at Momofuku noodle bar. (first photo below) We ate way too much and packed the rest in Ian's bag before biking around central park. We perused the Met, dropped in on Time Square, and ate delicious arepas at Caracas Arepa Bar just before close.
We moved to a different Airbnb in Brooklyn on day three before I spent the evening at BKLYN Studios, volunteering for Guys We Fest. I laughed my ass off and made new friends. I was filled with a lot of joy and pride for Krystyna and Corinne, comedians and hosts of Guys We fucked: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast, a podcast I have followed for years that is close to my heart. Later that evening Ian and I found ourselves drinking frozen rosé at Sunshine Laundromat and Pinball with our new friend Trey before crawling back to our Greenpoint apartment.
Every minute of every day was filled with exploring a different part of the city, which was 90% Ian and 10% me. Ian had been to New York a couple times prior, he did all of the research, talked to all of the people. All I had to do was hold on tight and follow him around the city. Which was the absolute best case scenario-- I am used to planning every detail of every trip I take-- with others or on my own. Originally I had planned to visit New York for a couple days on my own, volunteer for Guys We Fest, and hop on a plane back to Kansas City. What actually took place was so much more. So. Much. More. As I sit here trying to break down each day, each place we explored and all of the ground we covered, the days we spent lose themselves in each other. One night we walked eight blocks in the rain in Manhattan back to our Airbnb, another night we made friends at a show at the Brooklyn Mirage (insane fantastic venue) before grabbing drinks at Troost (a bar that called to me KC heart). We walked the Brooklyn Bridge, saw the 9/11 monument, and stopped to eat at so many great spots. Every moment spent fully open and in love with New York.
It just so happened that the yoga guide I have followed for years was having a pop-up Relax event in her Manhattan Studio, Strala. After I graduated high school and moved into an apartment in Kansas City, I found Tara's videos online and started my yoga journey. She's often called a 'yoga rebel' and its this beautiful part of her practice that completely pulled me in. I have never been athletic- I had little to no interest in sports (none. zip. none) and never found any kind of movement that inspired and compelled me to keep moving. I was also struggling with scoliosis and the discomfort I hadn't realized it was causing me. Tara's videos were challenging and accessible. The language she used and the emphasis on ease made me feel completely capable, not intimidated. I started doing her videos a few times a week. I started to learn how to move with ease, how to move my back with ease in a way that relaxed my body. And it was challenging- I worked on my core and my handstands and I got pretty good at yoga from the comfort of my living room. She taught me how to take care of my body and relax my mind-- and she is the sweetest most genuine woman I have met. I walked into Strala nearly shaking with nerves and excitement. After changing and waiting on my mat, I watched as Tara moved from mat to mat, greeting everyone in the room. She got to me, I did my best to mumble about following her practice for years, keeping it cool. She embraced me like we were already friends.
The practice that followed was surreal. It was everything I needed and wanted, and more. I hung around after to thank her and snap a photo. I was filled to the brim with love and strength, and I walked back down to the streets on Manhattan, refreshed and ready for all New York had left for me.
Twenty-four hours before our flights home, we finally slept in late and napped on and off all afternoon, not getting out for a meal until 4 pm. We took the subway out to Coney Island, ate Nathan's hot dogs and sat by the beach before heading back to Brooklyn. A dear friend recommended Milkbar-- it did not disappoint. We ate our ice cream and chatted with people outside. Not ready to end the trip just yet, we spent the evening on the Barge Bar near our Airbnb. It was a beautiful night, drinking Coney Island mermaid beer staring in awe at Manhattan in front of us. The trip was over. In a few hours, we would fly back to our own cities, thinking of this trip for weeks-- maybe months. I came to New York with a chip on my shoulder and I left, absolutely in love.