I couldn’t stop smiling, my enormous grin was permanently chiseled onto my face; my heart wouldn’t cease its drumming in my chest, it was as if King Kong himself was pounding his huge fist throughout my body. I had to clamp my legs down in order to stop myself from leaping into the air with excitement. Was this really happening? Has a four leaf clover sprouted on my head and blessed me with luck? Was I really on my way to New York City!?
QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
In this city of conquerors, I would be offered the spectacles that will open my eyes to a vast new world; leaving behind me the narrow and enclosed world I had known all my life. How did I manage to get aboard an all-expense paid trip to New York, you ask? Let’s just say, enlisting in that Marketing class for seniors this year wasn’t something I would regret doing. Not only would I get ahead of the class for the following year, but I would be cramming in some major sightseeing of the Big Apple as well.
My expectations for this city were high and so were those of the strangers I would be accompanying. I was the youngster, the junior, among upper classmen seniors. I knew I would be avoided as if I were a contagious disease ready to eat away at their reputations. However, I couldn’t let an opportunity like this pass me by and I managed to put aside the fact that I would be alone, on my own little island, during the entire trip.
I arrived at LAX and I was stupefied by what I saw: fifteen seniors greeted my arrival with open arms and lively jesters. These events were so unexpected; I had assumed that these classmates would remain strangers for the entire journey—never would I have guessed that I would gain acceptance from these people.
Our arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport was smooth; my first step on the new soil was enchanting. I felt confident, enticed and at the same time somewhat suave. I no longer walked alone and isolated; I was then walking alongside the big boys, ready to take a bite of the Big Apple. We longed for discovery and knowledge, but where could it be found? We then looked around and realized that it was in the atmosphere; it was in the air itself. We took one whiff: gasoline, sausage, steam, fresh cologne and brisk air entered our nostrils. We now had the city inside of us. We were the city, and we were ready to take control.
We walked the narrow streets and eyed the shining lights. The millions of electric volts streaming through Times Square were now streaming through our bodies. The city had us entirely electrified. We walked the streets until our soles became one with the concrete. There was exotic food galore and new culture at every block: China Town, Little Italy, and Soho—only to name a few.
Our stay was five days but we lived there for what felt like a month. The streets were crammed and the rooms were small, just as our trip was, but somehow, everything felt amplified. Our home, Long Beach, was no longer enough for us. We longed for more, we longed for adventure and success. The world we know back home could no longer fit our aspirations. In that five day stay in the city of lights, we realized, there is an entire world out there waiting to be conquered.
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