Hello, Today! | My Family Travels
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December 2010

It's probably in my best interest to start from the very beginning. In mid-December, I received an email from Seventeen magazine, asking for more information on something I had emailed them a few months ago. To refresh my memory, I checked my sent messages. In October, I had sent them an email to tell them what the "pressure to be perfect" meant to me. I talked about self-harm, specifically. Only a few months back, nearing my sixteenth birthday on September 2nd, I had become addicted to the blade. I had cut deep into my thighs with scissors, because I did not feel good enough. Photography had helped me out of my depression; I bought a new camera with my birthday money and began to take pictures of everything. In May of 2011, Seventeen's "Love is Louder" issue came out, and I was featured in it with a few other girls, as well as Demi Lovato. One month before that, though, I received a call of a lifetime from assistant editor Jane Bianchi.

â–º  QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP

April 6, 2011

I specifically remember trying to learn the song Lucky by Jason Mraz on my guitar. It was spring break, and I had done nothing all week. My ACT was coming up in three days, and I really didn't want to study for it. I walked out of my room to get a snack, and when I came back, I had a missed call from a 212 area code, and a voicemail left from it, as well. I had no idea what it could be and expected a wrong number.

By the time I got to the end of the voicemail, my heart was racing faster than it could after a day of physical activity. Jane Bianchi had called to ask me to go on The Today Show. Tomorrow.

I quickly called her back to find out the details. NBC was giving one of my parents and me a full-expenses paid trip to New York for a day to be on national television, talking about the pressure to be perfect. They wanted me to be a part of their foundation, Love is Louder. I had never been to New York before, but I had always wanted to. I raced out of my room and asked my parents. They were thrilled that I was being given such a wonderful opportunity and said yes. I had to get packing right that minute though, because my flight was set to be the next day.

April 7, 2011

Off I was to the city that never sleeps. The plane ride was nerve-wracking. What was I going to say? Were my clothes nice enough for New York? What if I got lost? In four short hours, I arrived at John F. Kennedy airport. When my father and I got off the plane and into the terminal, we saw a sign that said "Lamia." I took a double-take, and I realised that I had been sent my own personal driver. The princess treatment was starting, and I had never felt better. 

It was already 11:00PM in New York, but only 8:00PM in my home state of California. I was wide awake, but I had an early day the next day. I still was hungry, too. So, when we arrived at Club Quarters in Midtown Manhattan, the hotel I was staying at, we called the concierge immediately and ordered exactly what New York is famous for: pizza.

It was everything people said and more. If there was a more perfect slice of pizza, I would be surprised. The sauce and cheese were exactly right. Who could possibly ask for more in food? But when the pizza was over, it was time to go to bed so that I could wake up early the next morning and walk to Times Square.

April 8, 2011

Riiiiiing. The alarm awoke me on the first ring, and I hurried to get my clothes on. It was time to explore the world of the Upper East Side. I was living the dream of any sixteen-year-old girl. Playing Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys, I was ready to go by the 10th repeat. I prepared Google Maps on my phone and typed in Times Square. It was really happening. I was going to become one with the infamous TImes Square.

As we walked out the hotel room, I realised what Dorothy once realised in The Wizard of Oz. I wasn't in Kansas (California) anymore. No one was laid back and letting time pass them by. No one stopped to smell the roses. Everyone walked at the same, speedy pace. Crosswalks were optional, and one-way streets were surrounding us. The air was gloomy and urban, and the sun was nowhere to be seen. The buildings seemed stacked one on top of another. There was rarely a car that wasn't yellow and with a vacancy light on top.

I tried to fit in as best as I could. I walked the walk and I talked the talk (kind of). I didn't stop for the crosswalks, and I tired myself out with the hurried pace. Finally, I saw the infamous billboards of Times Square. 

"Tonight belongs to the… Phantom of the Opera," said one of the signs. There were several others, and I tried to breathe them all in, along with the beautiful New York air.

Random vendors with Broadway tickets engulfed the sidewalks. There was no escaping them. We walked into the large golden arches of McDonald's for some breakfast and coffee so we could use our one hour of Times Square wisely and without tiresomeness. 

Soon enough, I was in the largest Forever 21 I could imagine. It was three storys tall, and I was one of the happiest teenage girls alive. I bought and bought and bought. I compensated for not having to pay for anything else. It was the best shopping day I could imagine. Black shorts, two striped shirts, necklaces… what more could I ask for? I never wanted to leave, but New York awaited me.

I walked into Aeropostale next door, and I kept buying. Shoes, shirts, pants. I couldn't stop myself. I was in the city of dreams; why stop now? But alas, it was time for me to return to my hotel and get ready so that my driver could take me to Hearst tower.

Soon enough, I walked into the huge building. The doorman was monotonous. I swear I had seen him on television before. Maybe the Munsters or the Addams family. Who knows?

There was a man in the elevator, taking people up the floors, just like in the movies. He took us up to the 50th floor, where my interview was to be filmed. Before I knew it, I was being interviewed with three other girls by Amy Robach. Amy Robach. I was important enough to be interviewed for one of the top morning shows in America. My heart was beating fast, but I tried to answer her questions as best I could.

When it was over, I walked back to my hotel with my dad. Club Quarters and I only had a few minutes left together before I was off to John F. Kennedy again to get on my flight back home. I packed my things, and said goodbye to my hotel room. But I wasn't ready to go yet; I was starved. We headed to Ceci Italian Restaurant, only a few steps away to have our own share of authentic Italian food. As expensive as it was, it was fine dining. But it was time to go, and we took our bags into the next personal driver we were sent.

Only a few hours later, I was back home, and I was tired. My two day trip of fun was over, but I had experienced Manhattan in a day as well as I could have. I'll always have this nagging sensation to go back, but I wouldn't want my first time to have been any other way.

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