I was on my own, for better or worse, in an unknown city and bound to make the most of it. Most visitor never forget the first time they laid eyes on the concrete jungle. I arrived by air so I got a birds-eye view of the city. Seeing the metal and concrete structures that once were just a worn map I had studied for months on end, helped me wrap my head around the largest city I’d ever visited. This trip was a trip of firsts, my first trip to the big apple, my first trip by myself and my first step out of my comfort zone on the road towards becoming an entrepreneur. There would be no meeting with friends for dinner or joining a long lost relative to peruse the famed museums.
After making my way through the airport and taking the bus into Queens, I aimlessly wondered the streets with suitcase in tow. I don't know if that week I lucked out or what but I visited MOMA, MOMA PS1, the MET, and the Museum of the Moving and was thrilled with all the different museum’s architecture and varied works. I loved waking every day and looking at my list of possibilities and then mapping out the day. Over the course of my time in New York City days I traipsed through Central Park imagining the beauty it held in other seasons and relished in the solitude. The park was a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle surrounding it. I was sobered at the World Trade Center Memorial, did some window shopping in SoHo, and lingered in Bryant and Washington Park. I felt at ease in my independence and enjoyed aimlessly meandering wherever my heart desired.
The real reason for my trip was to attend the New York Times Travel Show per recommendation from numerous travel agents. They recommended attending a convention to get my feet wet and see if the culture of the industry was something that would interest me. As I hadn't started my own agency yet, i wasn’t able to attend the two days of talks for people in the industry but would be left to attend with the general public. Boy, what a zoo! After explaining to each person at every booth that I was strongly considering opening my own travel agency and that was my reason for being there, I was given a smile and treated the same as all the other general public attendees. After many tear-filled phone calls, I took my stack of new contact’s business cards and left the show. Instead of thinking of the convention as a waste of time I saw it as the first of many hurdles my journey towards owning my own business would encounter.
On my second to last evening in New York I set out for Brooklyn, on a train i didn't intend to take, upon arriving on the island I exited the train and started walking in the general direction of my destination. My phone was on low battery so i walked the streets in silence, a stark contrast to most of my city commuting and got caught in a rain storm. Wet and chilled I saw a market across the street to take cover in but as I approached the corner to cross the street a young lady grabbed my shoulder and ripped me away from the edge of the street. I looked back wondering if I was getting mugged or was in the process of having my first negative interaction with a New Yorker. She smiled apologetically as I saw a wave of water 4 feet high crash on the place where I had just been standing. “You’re not from around here are you?” I smiled and shook my head and waited for her to signal me to join her running across the city street.
Once the rain subsided I jogged towards the Brooklyn Bridge, I didn't have much time. As the sun began to set I walked on the pedestrian path and was filled with a sense of awe and wonder, a feeling I’d felt before when looking at Xunantunich or the sun rising on an isolated beach. I made it to the center of the bridge in time to catch the remainder of the show, snap a few pictures before my phone died, and absorb the final sun-filled moments of the day. As my time was drawing to an end in New York I was left with all sorts of feelings. I tried to sort them out while walking towards Manhattan. I felt New York had given me a gift I had been searching for without knowing it. It had given me the ability to step out of my comfort zone and do exactly what I wanted. To just bee myself.
What are YOU waiting for?