I found my legs in New York City.
Don’t get me wrong, they were never lost. I have always been blessed with lovely lower limbs and I’ve continuously used them the last 19 years of my life to kick, crawl, walk and run.
They have led me everywhere. My legs have hustled in the rainy, flooded streets of Seattle and they’ve dragged through the quaint, cobbled roads of Monterrey, Mexico.
They’ve followed paths, skipped over puddles and paced through flower fields.
But I realize my legs hadn’t really walked until the day they led me back to New York City.
New York is a caffeinated, roaring monster. It is loud, energetic, vast and incredibly intimidating to those who hail from suburbia.
Hordes of tourists jolt to a stop every 50 steps to snag a photo and angry natives scoff at the groups blocking the sidewalks.
Cars rush by, subways rattle underneath—everyone is in a hurry. In a world of fast paces, New York legs stride forward with purpose.
As I walked along Broadway toward Battery Park, about 70 blocks south of our hotel in Midtown Manhattan, I couldn’t help but pick up some of the purpose New Yorkers leave trailing behind them.
At first, purpose took over my stride tentatively. It began with small details––I adapted to my surroundings and as I got a hang of the practice, I began ignoring pedestrian signs in true New York fashion.
In California, ignoring the red hand would mean a hefty fine if you were spotted by a police officer. In New York, natives and acclimated visitors rush into the streets despite oncoming traffic at intersections and cross halfway through the street instead of at intersections.
In the city, tourists can be singled out by whether or not they follow pedestrian signals. Groups, families and appalled individuals can be seen on street corners, looking on in awe as crowds rush through the intersection as soon as there are no cars. Eventually, the puzzled onlookers snap out of their surprised state and follow the crowd.
I felt purpose trickle in a bit more upon transferring from Broadway to Lafayette Street. This street was less crowded, with only a couple of people walking by. While Broadway is brimming with aliens from all sorts of places and offered a cliché, artificial New York experience, Lafayette offered a calmer, less crowded alternative.
Lafayette Street brought me to the outskirts of SoHo, my favorite of all the neighborhoods in Manhattan. SoHo is lined with old brick buildings that tower overhead. It is home to New York’s artist population and so-called “hipsters,” housing high-end art galleries and clothing stores.
Located within SoHo is Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, a cosy thrift book store that doubles as a literary haven and coffee shop and serves the best hot chocolate in the city. A close second is the hot chocolate from Dean & DeLuca, a chain of upscale grocery stores.
Walking through SoHo, I saw myself spending hours after work with a good book and a hot chocolate on the tables upstairs at Housing Works. I saw myself walking toward Broadway to go find the latest fashions at Topshop and J.Crew. I found a new purpose, this one stronger than the last: I had to live here.
Moving to New York has always been something I wanted to do. I almost did two years ago for college, and since then I’ve wondered whether I would have been better off if I had.
New York is bursting with noise, traffic and unfamiliarity.
To tackle it, you have to have the right kind of weapons; the right kind of purpose.
The culture, the pace, the city lights have drawn so many to the city before, I can’t wait to walk in their footsteps.
My second visit to the Big Apple helped me find my legs. It helped me realize where I should go, where I want to go.
It helped me find my purpose