New York City is a mecca of everything you could imagine and more. It seems that everyone and everything has a story that hit you with impressions that if used wisely, inspire you like nothing else. I spent the entirety of my spring break in the city, and while it was of course a whirlwind, I found it to be a grounding time. I revisited and created traditions that reaffirm both who I am and who I perhaps could be, and I’d like to share some of my treasured moments with you — both the old and new.
Always spotted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
I have to start here. For me, it’s almost a ritual to visit The Met whenever I’m in NYC. In fact, my college admissions essay was centered around my growing up through The Met — a full-circle moment! Looking at the same pieces when I was 13, 16, 18 and 19, I’m left with a different perspective and led to think about both how much I’ve changed and have stayed the same. This time, my long-time best friend and I ran through every gallery and room while warm and tipsy from our dinner, giggling like we were middle schoolers again in our uniform skirts. Walking down the steps of the museum, I always wonder who I’ll be the next time I climb up these stairs.
Bike rides through Central Park
The best and worst bike ride I’ve ever gone on was through Central Park at the end of July, when it was 101 degrees and the peak of a heat wave. And mind you, this was before the release of electric Citi Bikes. I’ll never forget the uphill climbs, dripping with sweat and grunting with my friends thinking that this was the worst idea ever. But riding through the park again last week with cherry blossoms in full bloom, I realized how special that summer ride was — being able to experience the season in full force. Central Park holds a lot of meaning for many, and I’m grateful to be part of the bunch, as the park will always be a special place in the world that I can return to. I love it!
Returns to the bookstore
While it’s a fairly impractical purchase for carry-on-only trips, I always like to pick up a book that takes place in the city that I’ve traveled to. Alongside my own adventures, I like the idea of bringing home a story from a place that I’ve just experienced. Two years ago, I picked up “A Little Life” from The Strand. As anyone who’s read it can relate, I’ve never been the same since this read (I remember silently sobbing in the corner of Yali’s). Seeing the book on display at The Strand again, I felt like I came back from a journey of my own. This time, I brought back Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking.” It’s interesting because this is a book that I wouldn’t have looked at two years ago. Alongside The Strand, I discovered McNally Jackson in Soho, my chosen companion being “They’re Going to Love You” by Meg Howrey. I wonder what recollections I’ll have the next time I enter its doors.
Walks and Rides and Walks and Rides
Perhaps the most significant part of time spent in NYC is not at the destination but during the commute. Through the L train, the 6, the 6 again (because I was going uptown instead of downtown) and 40,ooo steps through Manhattan, there are so many thoughts, questions, memories and conversations that run through my mind. My personal favorite route is up 5th Avenue in the sun with Central Park on my left and the city on my right. At 16 walking up 5th Avenue, I was thinking about getting my matcha fix from Bluestone Lane, and at 19, I’m still thinking about getting that matcha from Bluestone Lane. Some things don’t change. But jokes aside, I’ll always love the walk up to Museum Mile — both alone and with friends as we laugh and dream about what’s to come.
Welcome to Ralph’s Coffee
Ralph’s Coffee on 888 Madison Avenue will always remain a special spot. I’ll never forget my first visit when I was back in NYC after a long time away and immediately feeling like yes! I’m in the right place. Something about the ambiance and interior makes me feel warm and comforted, a similar feeling to being at home during Christmas. This time, I ordered a hot chocolate with always a foam teddy bear on top, and did some journaling before perusing through the store. The Ralph Lauren flagship store is attached to the cafe, and it’s the most beautiful store to be in! I remember doing a whole photoshoot last time I was here, and I made sure to snap some mirror pictures this time around as well. For memories, I picked up the 888 Madison Flagship Candle. I look forward to my room feeling like Ralph’s.
New York City has seen me at all stages of my life, and I’m grateful for all of the moments that she houses — memories that I can rebuild myself upon.
After all, life is all about returning to yourself.