The time has come: my last moments in New York. This entire trip feels like it has lasted a lifetime and yet simultaneously no time at all. Though I did have very few expectations going into this, I don’t think I could ever have anticipated the kind of experience that I ended up with. Having been to so many neighborhoods and met so many people, I feel like I’ve gotten a small general taste for this area of the world. To be honest, I think that I could live here my entire life and still barely scratch the surface of the city. I didn’t do as many tourist-type activities as I thought I might but, at the end of the day, the conversations and connections that I had the opportunity to forge were far more valuable.
They say that the people are a major factor in what makes a city great, and I find this to be entirely true. My experience here would have been so much shallower and unfulfilling had I not had the interactions that I did. It’s unbelievably easy to get caught up in attempting to check destinations off on a list when traveling, so much so that we forget to stop and appreciate our surroundings – the people included. If I had one piece of advice to tourists coming here, it would be to slow down. Don’t pack your schedule full of iconic Instagrammable locations; stop into smaller stores and venture off the beaten path. The main street chain stores and museums aren’t going to run away. Take some time to get to know the people serving you, make some lasting connections, share your story. You never know when you might make a friend.
Today was a rainy dreary day much like when I arrived here exactly a week ago. I only made one quick trip into the city, this time for a bookstore that I discovered online last night. Turns out that it is not just your average bookstore, but a collection of old maps, rare books, autographs, and other antiquities. While I’m sure that one could spend hours in that store and not appreciate all that it has to offer, I simply wandered around for a while, bought some prints, and left. At this point, I’ve accepted that I cannot and may never see all of this diverse city. Everywhere I turn, there’s something new to discover. I guess I’ll just have to return over and over again so that I can keep discovering.