I fell in love with New York in 2006. It was the summer before my senior year of college. I was interning in Midtown and living in Chinatown. For 10 weeks, my best friend and I lived in an NYU dorm with 4 other girls. Two from North Carolina and 2 from Missouri. Together we all discovered our love for Manhattan.
I vividly remember boarding the Metro North train to Connecticut with my Mom and Dad when I was about 5 or 6. I battered woman boarded the train. Her clothes were torn and she had scratches on her face. She explained to the passengers that she'd been mugged on her way to Grand Central and needed train fare to get home. She scared me so much. We later learned from a family friend that this woman was regular beggar on the train. Telling the same story every weekend to a new set of train passengers. Little did I know that this would the first of many beggars I'd experience on the train.
That experience could explain why, even after using public transportation in Italy, France, Budapest, and Germany, I was still scared of the subway at the age of 21. But there is nothing like living in Chinatown and needing to get to Columbus Circle by 9am to force a girl onto the subway.
That summer, I made some mistakes, like walking four blocks to the subway in 3 1/2 inch heels. And I had some small triumphs, like kissing a sailor during Fleet Week (I thought I was soooo Sex and The City). I fell in love and knew I had to come back one day.
Finally, a little over 2 years later, I'm back...