It’s been about two months since I flew in to New York from DFW. I wanted to reflect on my overall experience so far, drawing on journal entries to recount a few highlights. This might wax a bit sappy or sentimental, so just know you’ve been warned.
A little bit of background: I was no stranger to the city prior to arriving for the semester. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been lucky enough to fly out here periodically and visit two of my closest friends, Hunter and Fiona. It was through these visits that my appreciation for the novelty of New York City simmered into a combined sense of familiarity and yearning. I knew long before applying to New York Arts that I wanted to find my way back here on a more permanent basis.
I find myself thinking back often to when my plane landed on January 10th. It seems like a distant memory now, although I know better. I remember unpacking all of my heavy duty winter gear from my carry-on, probably making a bit of a nuisance of myself despite trying my best to stay out of anyone’s path. I was wary of stepping outside to catch a Lyft, afraid the wind chill might blow right through my brittle Texas bones. To me, the greatest obstacle to living like a real New Yorker was being able to brave the bitter winters, and this was to be the first test of many.
It turns out the weather wasn’t actually that bad, and in fact this winter has been pretty mild as far as New York goes. That’s probably a bad sign for the environment, but on the up side it’s made acclimating to the north’s cooler temperatures a much easier process for me. And it is a process! I used to think that anything below 40 degrees was too cold to even consider going outside in. Nowadays, if I don’t feel the need to put on thick gloves, I’d consider it a pretty nice day out.
Admittedly, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect out of the New York Arts Program before I got here. I trusted that it was going to be a highly transformative experience, and that instinct was was correct, but I had no way of anticipating what that transformation would look like. In a pleasantly surprising twist, I’ve found that part of it has involved completely reshaping my perception of art. From artist talks to seeing work produced by our own faculty advisors, I have had the unique opportunity to engage with artists in various media and hear their diverse perspectives. I feel more inspired than ever to channel my energy into creative pursuits. I’ve found comfort in learning that art isn’t a process of perfecting your craft, but of putting something new into the world that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.
Living in the Wyndham New Yorker has been kind of an adventure in itself. There’s something about coming home to a beautiful, historic hotel in Midtown Manhattan that really satisfies my inner Kevin McCallister. It’s even better coming home at night: stepping out of a subway terminal and into the glow of the giant LED displays, like lanterns set out to draw tourist-moths. Only the streets and sidewalks are all but deserted, and the city that never sleeps seems to be resting its eyes. It’s a unique feeling to be at home in a part of the city--a part of the world--that people travel for miles and miles just to see in person.
But Midtown won’t be my home forever, which makes living here all the more memorable. If I am fortunate enough to start my post-grad life in New York, I like to think it will be in a Brooklyn neighborhood close to my friends. Of course, I can only guess as to what lies ahead, but with all of these experiences to go on I can’t help feeling optimistic.
Written by: Sarah Beard