One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years. –Tom Wolfe

I know I’ve compared New York City to a hormonal teenage girl before. But after a year of living here, I’ve realized this is an injustice to this place. I don’t know how you really describe this beautiful catastrophe, but if there was a pms-ing, hormonal teenager trapped in the Dalai Lama and he also happened to be a place, he would be New York City.

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Weird comparison? Probably one of the most bizarre I’ve ever thought up of. But it’s the best analogy I can use to sum up my first year residing in the Big Apple. New York can pull a person’s emotions all over the place. It can wear you down emotionally, cause you to feel lost and confused. It has the power to leave you overwhelmed with chaos and at the same time, overwhelmed with opportunity. It will evoke inspiration, to be not just hopeful for the future, but empowered to create your life the way you thought was only conceivable in your dreams. You’ll discover yourself a dozen times only to realize you are stronger and capable of more than you ever fathomed.

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It’ll make you feel so poor that you begin to value the super saver coupons and Walgreen’s Value of the Week, but rich in intellectual stimulation from the fascinating people you’ll converse with when your subway is being “held by the dispatcher, we’ll be moving ‘momentarily’”.  You’ll feel fit as Jillian Michaels from carrying your life and groceries with you everywhere you go, only to gain back all that lost weight after devouring the best pizza, cookies, and cheesecake in THE WORLD. It’s true, New York is the city where you can be anyone you want to be, see and do anything you want to do, and wake up the next day feeling like you still have so much to grasp from what this city has to offer. Who would have thought such a place could actually exist?

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Originally, I had five pages to serve as a “brief” summary of my past year. But I didn’t want to lose anyone with my idea of “brief”/”rambling” and remembered there’s a reason I’ve been blogging about my adventures in the city this past year. At least I can use those pages as an opener for the book that I will likely put out there one day.

So what do I post on my one year anniversary with the city? I could compare the two days and share my terrifying taxi ride and grocery store experience on my first day. Or give 365 lessons I’ve learned while in the city, including don’t do talk to strangers on the subway and behind you in line at Trader Joe’s. I could talk about all the different people I’ve been blessed to meet and the friends I’ve made from all over the world.  I could talk about how making friends is harder than dating, but when you do make a friend, they’re your friend for life and you would do anything for them.

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I could steer towards the dramatic side and talk about how there were moments I didn’t think I would make it a year in this city as I broke down on nearly every block of Broadway and discovered that even thinking you have bed bugs is one of the worst feelings in the world. Or I could talk about my experience with finding an apartment and roommates on Craigslist and how my mom was petrified I was going to arrive in the city and find out I had been scammed and there would be no roommate and no apartment for me to arrive to. Craigslist and roommates are going to have to be their own chapter in my New York life story.

I could share my Big Apple Bucketlist and what some of my highlights have been from this year such as running across the Brooklyn Bridge, standing shoulder to shoulder next to Neil Patrick Harris walking down Broadway, ice skating in Central Park hand in hand with my love, watching fireworks on a rooftop in the middle of the summer, seeing the Yankees play against the Red Sox, running through Central Park with my sister during the biggest rainstorm I’ve ever been caught in, landing a job with my dream magazine to work for, playing a red piano in Prospect Park, finding my NYC soul mate, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the list goes on and on.

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Instead, I figured I would share the best thing NYC gave me. It’s something I kind of already knew, but NYC reiterated it and made me realize the truth behind it.

On the day of my one year anniversary, storm Hercules caused the Rodale offices to be closed giving me an extra day to spend with Luke and also a day to get caught up on things around the apartment while he worked from home. I found this out after my early morning wake up and workout. New York always finds ways to surprise me. The next 48 hours were actually the perfect way I would have wanted to celebrate my one year. I made French toast for Alex, Luke, and myself followed by trekking through the snow with my bags of laundry and ordered in Luke’s favorite, Blockheads. Later that evening, we met up with a group of friends to go down the block and watch the Ohio State bowl game as Alex and I reminisced on our first encounter and memories from our first year in the city from our first “date”, losing phones, sharing cabs with strangers, the best pizza we had, accompanied by laughter and toasting to another great year in the city. The next day, Luke and I ice skated in Central Park and revisited the first place I went to in the city where I started to feel at ease with my move.
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With growling bellies, we walked over to my old neighborhood which happens to also be home to one of the best pizza places in the city. After each devouring an entire pizza to ourselves, it was time to go home for a How I Met Your Mother marathon and low key night before Luke’s departure.

What does all this have to do with what New York has given me? It has reiterated that life is about living with no regrets and making the most of whatever happens. If life gives you a snowday…by gosh you go out and play in that snow! And if you can get things done at the same time then it is a double Whammy. Take chances and don’t hold back. Find strength to go out and get what you really want in life. Be positive, be optimistic, and surround yourself with people who encourage you to be all these things and more.IMG_0489

The growth that has come with living in the city has created a woman who knows what she wants and makes sure that it happens. A woman whose increased curiosity has led her to not only discover the city that many people love, but has fallen in love with herself. I don’t know what the next year will bring, but I do know this hot potato will be taking on the big apple with all she’s got and living up every opportunity. Here’s to another year for the books!

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I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance. -Nora Ephron

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