I’ve always had this feeling of freedom when it comes to pursuing whatever crazy idea I’ve ever had.
For example, I tried running away at 2-ish years old because my parents wouldn’t let me drive the car; totally logical for a toddler. And then I actually did run away as a senior in high school, but that’s a long story for another day. My point is it truly seems like we are wired from birth and while our experiences shape who we are, the core of us is there from the start.
Case and point: At 18 years old I packed up my baby blue Honda Civic and moved to NYC! My mom cried at the front door as she said goodbye to me. I was too naive to know at the time how scared she was for her daughter. Now as a mother, I can clearly look back and identify that on that fall day in 1996, my mom was worried sick for me.
My dream was to move to New York, work for a year, save money, and then apply to the Fashion Institute of Technology to pursue fashion design. Looking back, this was a tall order, but it never felt too big to me. My boyfriend and I lived on the Lower East side in an apartment at 115 Ludlow Street. Our bathtub was in the kitchen and the walls were so thin we could hear our neighbors use the bathroom; a true palace! We were so broke that we once used grape Kool-Aid mixed with chicken and ramen noodles, as our attempt at grown-up people food: Sesame Chicken. I mean, this is the stuff dreams are made of right?
My first day commuting to work, I arrived 10 minutes early to the Metro station only to miss the first train because I got pushed out of the way. I had my last $20 swindled during a card hustle and I also walked up on a man that had just been beaten and robbed outside of my apartment door. I wasn’t in Cocoa Beach, Florida anymore and I realized quickly I was going to have to step up my hustle if I was going to survive.
I didn’t make it past a year in that city but it sure was a great start to my adult life! Despite it all, I have a place in my heart for New York City and always will. That city is like the best kind of chose-your-own adventure around. Hit the ground in any direction and around every corner is a new experience or new story.
I obviously didn’t end up becoming a big fashion designer, but present day I am immersed in the beauty and fashion world and I think it’s amazing that I’m getting to revisit familiar places in a different role. I’ve been back to NYC over the years, but this time is different. I never would have imagined 22 years ago when I left NYC that I’d be back again with such a full and blessed life.
As I prepared for my trip to the Indie Beauty Expo this week, I knew that I had to find a way to stay in my old hood on the Lower East Side and I hit the jackpot when I found a hotel on Ludlow Street just a couple blocks away from my old apartment. Today Ludlow Street is full of personality with a hip and fruitful buzz flowing out of every single boutique, restaurant and apartment. This neighborhood has gone through an overhaul since I lived here and I’m 100% sure the bathtubs are in the correct place and Kool-Aid is not a common cooking ingredient in these parts anymore!