|I remember my first cab ride when I arrived in New York City.|
I’ve never been the type of person to travel, let alone move somewhere without thoroughly researching my destination beforehand. So when I came to New York, few things took me by surprise. Still, there were certain aspects of NYC life that I had to figure out the hard way. In other words, I had to experience it personally in order to “get it.” Having lived for four years in New York City this month, I realized how much has changed since I arrived.
Year One – 2011
When I first got to Gotham, everything was shiny and new. I remember the cab ride from JFK airport and seeing the NYC skyline, then driving through Central Park, which was beautifully blanketed in snow. My eyes were bugging out of my head when I pulled up to my first apartment, which was a gorgeous Upper East Side building on East End Avenue overlooking the river, (this isn’t a normal situation – I only scored this apartment thanks to a hookup through my sister-in-law).
This first year was nothing but parties, as my two best friends from college, Bekki and Rae, were already living here. Life in the city was exciting, and I was thrilled to make my “New York performance debut” at Lenox Lounge in Harlem, singing Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Rae and I would also pub crawl down Second Avenue almost every weekend, and Fleet Week became our new favorite holiday.
I also realized that I’m not a fan of extreme crowds and tourists. Bekki and I braved the Midnight Black Friday sale at Bed Bath & Beyond, and I made the rookie mistake of attending the holiday tree lighting at Rockefeller Center.
|Not a bad view for my first NYC apartment.|
Year Two– 2012
I celebrated my first NYC New Year with Rae at a club overlooking Times Square. Shortly after, reality began to set in as my apartment lease was up, and I had to move. I also had to find somewhere far cheaper than my first place, which was eating up my savings. I lucked out by finding a rent-stabilized apartment in the East 60s – the ceilings and walls were peeling, but my room was huge, and the location was great, so I didn’t care.
Although I was still making an effort to have fun, this was the year when I started to gain footing, professionally. While I moved here for my music career, I landed a job at a luxury magazine and began to experience the perks of that type of position – networking with celebrities, learning more about the ad industry, and attending events at venues like the Pierre Hotel. I also had the privilege of being a featured singer during a “Ladies of Jazz” night at the Nuyorican Café downtown.
Of course, I can’t forget that this was also the year that Hurricane Sandy hit. While I was lucky that the Upper East Side wasn’t affected for the most part, it was a hard dose of reality to see what so many people had to go through, from the loss of electricity to losing their homes.
|I’ve attended events at venues like the Pierre Hotel.|
Year Three – 2013
My highlight was attending a songwriter’s workshop at the Apollo Theatre, hosted by Nona Hendrix. Aside from that, I was constantly bombarded with work during my third year. Oh, and I went to Hunk-O-Mania. Twice. Once, for Bekki’s bachelorette party and once for my birthday. The host now recognizes my group of friends and say we have “frequent flyer miles” there. I haven’t been back since.
Year Four – 2014
This was probably my toughest year yet. To put it plainly, I was screwed over and had to move out of my comfortable, rent-stabilized apartment within two weeks. Fortunately, I found a fantastic roommate and a beautiful apartment (still in the UES), but that wasn’t without wiping out my bank account and having to start once again from scratch. Because of a lack of funds, I had to put my music career on hold and dive into endless hours working as a freelance contractor in order to afford my rent increase. It was my first dose of reality and how tough it can be to make it in this city.
There were some great moments, such as attending the VIP re-opening party at the Rainbow Room and starting to write for Tracy’s New York Life, but overall, year four was a very trying year. Even though the previous years had toughened me up a bit, I still felt like 2014 aged me about a decade.
|I was lucky enough to go to the Rainbow Room’s re-opening party.|
Having lived for four years in New York City, I have this strange, cumulative feeling of cynicism, preparedness, confidence, and positivity. Four years is more than enough “buffer time,” and I feel like I now know what type of curve balls this city can throw my way.