New York Revisited

This March marks the 4th anniversary of me leaving New York for home. I remember vividly I was tethering on the verge of a nervous meltdown as the plane prepared to take off from JFK. All those years, Jay Z and Alicia Keys kept telling me to have an Empire State of Mind, that as long as I make it in New York I’ll make it anywhere…

No, in all seriousness, even though it was my decision to leave and there was sufficient time before the departure date to let reality sink in, the moment when it eventually happened remained emotional and, to some extent, traumatizing. At that point, I had been living in the States for a number of years, and so it wasn’t simply the act of leaving New York that stirred me up.

I was bidding farewell to the way of life that I had been very familiar and comfortable with. I had no clue then how the future would look like, but I had a feeling New York wouldn’t play a part in it. And that was very saddening, considering that it was the city I had dreamed of and worked hard for since I was young.

Fast forward to now, 4 years later, that decision to leave has turned out to be one of the best I have ever made. It has taken me down an entirely different path, one that has afforded me the many opportunities to learn and grow.

This time last year, I came back to New York for a visit and and realized that back then what I was in love with was the idea of being in New York, of being to tell people that, oh I live and work in the most exciting city in the world, and of following the well-trodden path of others.

And that herd mentality- rather than the emotional immaturity- is what I find most funny about my early 20s. If you asked me what officially marked my entry into adulthood, my answer now wouldn’t be the jobs, the number of savings accounts, or the ability to afford this or that. I used to think they were the answers, though, because at the end of the day they are what grown-ups do. But for me, personally, I never felt mature for the first half of my 20s. However, coming back to New York and looking back on my thoughts and actions four years earlier, I realized the moment I became a grown-up was when I decided to carve out my own niche instead of mindlessly doing what other grown-ups do.

That I don’t have to live in any specific city to be happy is the most liberating realization.

*****

All that said, I had a great time in the city with my college friend who flew all the way from Chicago. None of the places we went to are completely foreign to me, but they were the ones I really took for granted when I lived there. I hardly ever paused to appreciate and capture their quirks and charms. So, this time around, I learned from my mistakes and took about 200 photos. I only sorted them out last week and posted some on my Instagram. This short post thus is a combination of both the photos I shared and didn’t share on that platform.

I hope you enjoy them 😉

A photo posted by Khoa (@confuseddasher) on

A photo posted by Khoa (@confuseddasher) on

A photo posted by Khoa (@confuseddasher) on

A photo posted by Khoa (@confuseddasher) on

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