When you’re working full time + OT and bartending thereafter, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. I speak from firsthand experience when I say that I’m e x h a u s t e d. But despite crazy hours and feeling drained throughout the work day, when it comes to Friday I’m wide awake. Fridays are the beginning of the chance to take a breath and take everything in. They give me butterflies and anticipation of what’s to come—they give me an appreciation for life and the consciousness to strive to feel that same appreciation throughout the following week. Sure every day is something to smile about and never something to take for granted (even though we all do it sometimes), but Fridays are the icing on the cake because, for me at least, they are the dawn of some of the best nights of my life.
Since moving to the greatest city on Earth, I’ve taken a stance of expanding my horizons. Whether that’s feeling more comfortable dining alone, walking into a random bar, caring a little less about what people think, staying out until the sun rises, working out in just a sports bra (and totally OWNING it), not altering menu items to fit my pre-existing tastes, picking the cognac cocktail instead of my go-to vodka-sprite—I’m game. In other words, I’m putting myself out there in this enchanting city and not only hoping to gain the most from my experiences living here, but to actively make choices that will ensure that I do.
I have these clairvoyant moments where I’m just blissfully happy. It’s a type of happiness that fills every ounce of your being and bubbles into unexpected smiles (it can get a little weird on the Subway when people think I’m a tad too excited about life that I’m brinking on mentally insane—at least that’s how I interpret some of their looks—haha whatever). Sometimes it’s fleeting and then there are moments that spill into days and it’s something I’ve never experienced before and can’t quite put my finger on. All I know is that I owe it to this place and the renewal that it’s given me so far.
So far, I’ve made the most of my experience and fallen more in love with this city by:
- Taking in the sights. And I don’t mean hopping on a double-decker and letting my eyes trail wherever the guide points. No, it’s more routine than that. I make a point to look up every time I walk out of Grand Central and onto 42nd on my way to work to and every time I cross the street to see the picturesque view of midtown; as soon as I cross over into Queens after work I can’t help but crane my neck to see the way the Empire State Building and Chrysler building scrape the pink ombré sky; don’t even get me started on the view from Astoria Park; or the way the lights twinkle in Little Italy. That’s the thing about this city—and anywhere, really—if you take the time to look around, you’ll realize just how much there is to be in awe of.
- People Watching. Whether it’s the trap queen or the homeless man, there’s something to appreciate and imagine—where they’re going, what they’re doing, if they’re as in love with this city. I’m in the melting pot which exposes me to all walks of life and the ability to imagine alternate narratives and ways of life. It’s pretty awesome (most of the time).
- As everybody knows, I LOVE taking pictures. It used to be Instagram, but when I got Snapchat and can post my whole story—you best believe I became one of their biggest fans. Whenever and whatever I’m doing, it will likely end up on Snapchat (within reason) because it’s my way of recording memories (especially on nights out when there’s a chance of not remembering it).
- Music to my ears. Anytime I see a street performer, they end up on Snap. John Lennon tributes, break dancers, rappers, accordionists, violinists, plastic bucket drummers, Oprah singers—I love you all—you help make this city what it is.
- Night walks. If I can get a glimpse of the skyline, I’m there. Like the song says, “…bright lights will inspire you…” Jay-Z was right.
- New Food/Drinks. I’m one of the pickiest eaters known to man, so when I moved here, I vowed to try new things—peppers, pork (other than bacon), onions, condiments (still hate ketchup—that will NEVER be a thing), cognac, fig—you name it. In the process I’ve even found that some things are pretty great—steak, onions and salsa verde—where have you been all my life?! Even a new appreciation for margs…WHOA
- New Places; New People. Like I said, Fridays are the dawn of some of the best nights of my life. Every Friday I’m captivated by what’s in store—and the best part is that I usually don’t have plans—whatever comes up; I go with it and end up having the best time ever. I’ve been to countless teeny bars—dimly lit Italian ones, sports ones where famous boxers are plastered all over the wall, Coyote Ugly—you name it (and if I haven’t been there yet, thank you for the recommendation and I will surely add it to my list), all over the East Village, SoHo, Washington Square Park, Central Park…
The best part is the people I meet. Sometimes we’ll talk for a minute and others I can’t stop laughing with. My favorite night in the city so far was two weeks ago when I took V up on her offer to meet Eric’s friends. Although I was a tad hesitant at first because I was the only singe girl with a group of couples, I decided to not GAF. In the process, I took shots, laughed and found a group of Irishmen that I fearlessly approached in awe of their Irish banter. Being from what New Yorkers consider “the South” (they clearly don’t understand the concept of NoVA) where European accents are hard to come by; it’s no wonder why I go so starry-eyed. Needless to say, those accents got me entirely out of my head and into the moment. I’ve gone out plenty in my days (let’s be real; I’m only 23, there’s still many nights drinking too much and sleeping too little to come), but I’ve never had a night like that. I was dancing—ME: the girl who hates to dance and will only do so if heavily intoxicated (and I wasn’t…not t h a t, at least). And we weren’t even in a club, nope, we were in a college bar—and I was the girl dancing (and we’re not talking about that new age grinding shit (but I do enjoy that sometimes too), but no, we’re talking old school spinning and footwork and following their lead) with a group of guys from an opposite side of the world, having the best time there. All in all, it was such a simple night of barhopping, but the people made it one I will never forget even if I don’t remember all their names or may never see them all again.
Just like when I’m talking, I could go on and on and on; but for now, I’ll leave it at that. I’m so thankful to be here and for everything that I get to revel in. Surely, there are moments when I’m so caught up in the stresses of work, making an entry-level salary work in one of the most expensive cities on Earth, scheduling gym seshes (been super bad this week and haven’t worked out ONCE—ew), being behind the bar and whatever else the day throws at me. But then I remember that I’m exactly where I want—where I’ve always wanted—to be and so wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, I take a deep breath, smile and let the sounds of the city mixed with Kygo (my latest music obsession—thank you Stevey) take me away into that blissful (empire) state of mind.
Thought of the day:
“Life moves pretty fast sometimes, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Ferris.