The next morning, it rained. Wrapped up in my green coat, I made my way over to the 9/11 memorial. It was quite emotional. The names of everyone who died were engraved around the waterfall. A rose is placed on a person’s name on their birthday. It was so surreal to be standing there, knowing that hundreds of people had died in that very spot.
Just thinking that life can be taken away from you so easily by the hand of another human is strange. After the memorial, I wandered over to Wall Street, stopping at every Starbucks I passed to dry off and get WiFi. I also had to buy a $5 umbrella because I was soaked through and through.
Wall Street was amazing (I wish it wasn’t raining through). My feet were soaked! I seriously wonder how much money I would make from tourists if I paraded down the street in a wolf costume. I saw the charging bull, stone street, the NY stock exchange, the George Washington Statue. It was a cool area, full of lots of history.
Then it was time to jump on the ferry at Battery Park to go to the Statue of Liberty. I was proud of myself for finding the ferry and getting to it on time. (I had to ask some police officers, but still). Anyway, I was walking towards the ferry entrance when the entrance guard immediately asked me where I was from. I tell him I am from Vancouver and he starts telling me how he wants to get duo-Canadian citizenship and something about how you have to get a Masters degree to live in Canada. (Not sure what he was talking about..!)
Anyway, I go through security and when I get to the other side, he is standing there. He asks me my name and then holds out his fist to me.
“Fist pump?” I say, confused.
“No, this is for you.”
And he opens my hand and gives me a piece of paper. It’s his name, number, and email address. I was surprised and I have to admit, a little bit flattered, purely because I have never been noticed this much before. Maybe it’s because for the first time, I am alone.
I haven’t done anything with the number. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with it.
The Statue of Liberty would have been a lot more enjoyable in the sun. It was cold and wet on the ferry and my umbrella kept turning inwards. Also, there was so much security and I had to pay $2 to put my bag in a locker! I was a bit mad about that. All because I brought a backpack and not a purse!
I climbed the 196 steps up the pedestal. The view wasn’t as nice because of the clouds but it was still cool. It’s funny because I saw the same, friendly, old couple that I saw on Top of the Rock. They called me their “little buddy” and told me all about their daughter who could have been on Broadway and their grandchildren who do all sorts of music and sports. It’s easy to keep old people happy. All you have to do is ask them about their family and they can talk for hours.
After the statue, I went back to the hotel and got changed into warmer clothes. Then I went to Times Square and found Ellen’s Stardust Diner. It’s like in Glee where all the waiters and waitresses sing. It was so cool! They sang songs like ABBA, Bui Doi, Circle of Life, A Whole New World, Lean on me, We are Young, Lazy River, Celine Dion (so good!) I literally sat in my little seat at the bar utterly entranced. A party of four came in (a girl, her mom, her dad, and the dad’s friend) and I offered to move down so they could all sit together. They thought it was the nicest thing in the whole world and the dad offered to buy me dessert. I told him it wasn’t necessary but he insisted. Turns out he bought my whole meal!
“Nice people do nice things for other nice people,” he said. “And you’re cute, you’re such a doll!”
I have no idea why all these lucky things keep happening to me but maybe it’s proof that when you love the world, it loves you right back. I feel so happy and full of hope right now. I feel like a sparkling glass of champagne. For the first time in forever, nothing’s in my way!
I think New York has introduced me to the life I want to live. I think it’s helped me embrace the idea of growing up but also remain set on never losing that childish optimism that makes the world so beautiful. I found a light inside of me and I’m never going to let anyone – or anything – extinguish it. I have to remember exactly how I feel RIGHT now and hold on to that feeling and never let it go.
I think New York is the first of many adventures I’ll have. There are so many more sights to see and people to meet, and things to do. I just have to be brave enough. I know I can be brave enough. I’m not sure what I want to do with my life yet (just this morning, Karina was telling me I have to start looking for another job as I haven’t heard back from CI yet) but I do know that I want to travel the world, and meet beautiful people, read books, and write until I have a library full of books.
As I recently read, “A ship in the harbour is safe but that is not what ships are built for.” New York has taught me to take risks. If you win, you will be happy and if you lose, you will be wise. (who said that?) It has taught me that I am not too small for this world, after all. I love New York for changing my life. I love it for making me brave and for helping me find my voice. I love New York for making me feel young and beautiful and happy. For making me a dreamer, an explorer, and for teaching me how to read a map. I love New York for showing me the kind of person I want to be for the rest of my life. For that, I will forever be grateful to it.
I walked through Central Park for the last time this morning and my heart was just so full of so many things. I’ve felt so alive, free, and happy in New York. It seemed like another adventure was just around the corner and it was liberating to be able to do what I pleased, when I pleased. I really think this trip was so important in my development as a person – and it was beyond anything I could have hoped for.
New York is a love affair. It sweeps you off your feet and before you know it, you’re in love. I don’t know if it’ll be a life-long love but it will definitely be an affair to remember. I can imagine myself living in New York one day. Not for forever, but for a little while. Home is still the best place on earth to me but the world is fascinating and full of beautiful things and I can’t wait to discover it in time.