In my experience, travel has always been synonymous with vulnerability. There is something about being in an unfamiliar place, away from home (and my bed), that cracks me open and spreads me bare. And though I always discover something new about myself (e.g. resilience, courage, the ability to consume a whole pizza on my own…), I’m also left feeling challenged, melancholy, and overwhelmed.
Traveling is hard. Every time I travel, there have been moments of severe loneliness or insecurity. Plans unexpectedly change, expectations fall short, the silence of being alone can suffocate. And even though these difficulties allow for greater growth and learning–even though I relish vulnerability because I know it’s good for me–travel never stops being hard.
It’s hard every single time I travel. Well, every single time except for yesterday.
Yesterday was perfect.
I’m a firm believer that while everything happens for a reason, some things carry more weight than others. I believe that there are moments in life where the planets align and stars cross and fates decide, moments where life is inexplicably perfect. I experienced this when I made the decision to move to Boston, and I experienced it again on my first solo trip to New York City.
I’ve traveled alone before, but it was always in association with other people. I’ve mastered airports and maneuvered subways alone (tasks that used to terrify me); however, they were a means to an end, so to speak. With any of the destinations I visited, I never did so completely alone.
This trip to New York City was the first time I entered, visited, and left a place entirely on my own, and (I know this will sound hyperbolic, but I honestly mean it) it was easily one of the best days of my life.
It’s an experience that has immediately become special and precious to me, and I am actually not ready to share all the details. But, I will say that to have an experience be so magical and effortless, to have it also be created entirely by me, is endlessly inspiring.
I’m still learning how to create the life I want, and this adventure has become a cherished reminder of my own capacity for happiness.
Like traveling, New York City feels a great deal like pure chaos. It’s busy and overcrowded. The stark lines of skyscrapers seem imposing and restrictive. Surrounded by so many people, it’s easy to feel lonely. But as someone who has felt that way more often than not, I did not feel lonely walking in New York City.
The buildings, with their harsh angles and melancholy colors, felt safe to me. I watched shadows dance along their exteriors, peppered with flashing lights and billboards, and thought how beautiful they were. I saw myself reflected in the people, the air, the pavement. I walked 7th Avenue listening to the Schuyler Sisters sing of the greatest city in the world, and couldn’t help but think that I agreed.
Though my visits have been brief and infrequent, New York City has never been anything but perfect to me. I feel as though a piece of me belongs there, though I can’t explain how or why.
But I intend to find out.
There is a great big world out there, my friends. Go and see it.