New York City

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Before March 3rd, 2017, I had never ridden in an airplane or been away from home for more than five days. I had never seen the ocean or palm trees or mountains. And I certainly had never consumed more vegan pastries in the span of five days. I was hungry. For travel, plant-based cookies, all of it.

In October of 2016, I bought a plane ticket to visit New York City during my spring break in March. I had yet to ask my parents, but they couldn’t say no if I already bought a nonrefundable plane ticket, right? ;) I asked a friend to come with, March rolled around and we were off!

(cue Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”)

Noah and I in Times Square

Noah and I in Times Square

My friend Noah was born to live in the city. He is particularly keen on and familiar with NYC, which made him a great candidate when I was seeking a travel buddy. We packed light, and I mean LIGHT. We packed hopefully as if our destination was that of the typical spring breaker. To our own detriment, we landed in New York City at the dawn of March with no coats and thin, distressed jeans as our warmest layer. Lucky for us, NYC is home to the biggest Macy’s in the world and there are storefronts on every block so we were able to snag the bare necessities. Despite our lesson about the adverse effects of packing lightly, we kept light hearts as we weighed ourselves down with vegan junk food, got lost in the subway, and survived our stay at a mediocre airbnb.

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Y'all thought I was kidding about the desserts, didn't you? Thank you,  by CHLOE  and  Clementine Bakery , for the goods.

Y'all thought I was kidding about the desserts, didn't you? Thank you, by CHLOE and Clementine Bakery, for the goods.

On Sunday, March 5th, 2017, I connected with a friend I made on Instagram. Sounds wild to some, but that’s how I meet a lot of cool people these days. He was much taller than I expected and wore two of the hippest rings. His name is Zech. Noah and I met him at a coffee shop in Brooklyn and relocated to a vegan pizza joint which was right next to a vegan ice cream shop– ONLY IN NYC. Unsurprisingly, we were lured in for dessert promptly after finishing next door. Vegan ice cream shops have ACTUAL gravitational pulls, didn’t you know? We explored the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a bit and afterward, Zech and I were led astray by an uber carpool on our way to dinner. We were disoriented as our driver meandered through the city streets and picked up more passengers. We packed ourselves like sardines, but it only seemed like the two of us as we were enthralled by effortless conversation. Admittedly, neither of us were keeping track of time and didn’t realize how off-track we were being taken.

photo by  Zechariah Lee  (@zech.lee on Instagram) at the MET

photo by Zechariah Lee (@zech.lee on Instagram) at the MET

Everything worked out, as things usually do. We found a nearby ramen restaurant and had a lovely dinner. Neither of us wanted to say goodbye. I invited Zech to Michigan, but both of us knew we would most likely never see the day (little did we know... he has visited three times since). We parted ways at Grand Central Station after admiring a brave woman as she froze the bustling corridor with the echo of her powerful opera performance. She embraced her proud, sparkly-eyed husband after her final, vibrato-filled note. If I could wrap love, beauty, and spontaneity all in one neat little three minute moment, it would be that one. I still think about her.

Zech and I in the city :)

Zech and I in the city :)

Throughout the entire trip, I could not stop thinking about the unity within the underground city that is the New York subway system. Whether it’s an impromptu performance in a subway car, or a well-rehearsed production with sound equipment, the energy created by these events puts fast-paced people on pause. As a result, the rigidity that is sometimes created from years of living in the city softens. The subway was one of my favorite aspects of the city and my memories continue to make me feel the magic of camaraderie within it. Music and art is like glue and keeps the foundation of NYC together.

yellow submarines in a sea of a city

yellow submarines in a sea of a city

There you have it, folks: a highlight reel of the trip that kicked the door of world curiosity within me open wide. I have returned since. Zech and I drove to NY from LA in August, but that's a whole story of its own (and will definitely be a blog post of its own soon).

One last thing! Consider this: what are you curious about? and what is keeping you from satisfying that curiosity? If it's the fear of disapproval, unfamiliarity, or whatever else your inner critic is telling you, let go. Follow your curiosity anyway.

Shanti, my friends.