Imagine this: a Latino family performing pop music with an accordion, a disheveled elderly couple snoozing, a pair of Scottish lads clasping their bagpipes in their traditional kilts, and a tattooed rocker clunking around with her combat boots and beat up six-string.
The moment I joined these people on the grimy subways of New York City, I knew this was my heart’s home. As a born-and-raised Oklahoma girl, I have only dreamt of the day that I would feel free from everyone else’s expectations; New York City proved to be everything I have ever dreamed of and more.
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In my home state, I am not similar to most: I have an obscure style, a personality that avoids small talk, and dreams too big for the fishbowl I live in. As I stood in Times Square with my mother on the first day of our Big Apple adventure taking in the constant stimulation, I had an epiphany. For the first time, I felt like I had a place in this world. The blaring horns, eclectic gobs of people, and abundance of lights and excitement created my own personal oasis. I felt at home. I felt like myself. I felt normal.
Throughout the trip, we experienced multitudes of famous New York trademarks. Our inner children were awakened as we posed with the NYC Library lions and explored FAO Schwarz; we also indulged on massive cupcakes at Dylan’s Candy Bar and sipped frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3. The serenity of Central Park cleared our heads following the bustle of Grand Central Terminal. Washington Square Park and NYU enticed my mind with potential opportunity after we payed our respects at the 9/11 Memorial. The massive fountains surrounded by rubble and skyscrapers truly tug at the heart. Our journeys across the Brooklyn Bridge and on the Staten Island Ferry provided astounding views of Manhattan and Lady Liberty herself, but the most breathtaking experience was when my mom and I stood atop the Rockefeller Center and soaked in the entire city. The Empire State Building perfectly pierced the Manhattan skyline and the extent of Central Park was unimaginable. With each new landmark, my smile grew wider. Each night, my mom and I would head back to our room at the Hotel Edison through the Theatre District noshing on everything from classic New York hot dogs to donut ice cream sandwiches from the borderline sinful Holey Cream while we reminisced on the action packed day.
While we saw so many incredible sights, my favorite part of the trip was the Broadway musicals we enjoyed. Wicked, Once, and Rock of Ages were our lineup. When the lights went out and the stage came alive, my heart swelled. While my dream is not to be a Broadway star, these shows expressed that I had to stop pretending that I didn’t want what I was truly striving for.
When we left the city with our touristy “I Heart NY” tees, it was bittersweet. I was leaving the one place I didn’t feel like I was fighting a losing battle with myself, but I know deep down that I will return. New York City is not my birthplace, but it is where I belong. This city taught me that this is my life and that I need to take advantage of this wild adventure I have been given. The loudness and craziness may chase off some, but New York City rejuvenated my soul, and for that I am forever grateful.
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