I recently took a trip to New York City, alone. Despite the well intentioned cries of, “It’s not safe!” from loved ones, I somehow managed to make it there and have the time of life. This might have seemed like a random tourist excursion to most, but for me it was a way of establishing some sense of independence and confidence. After having grown up in a household where “you’re our responsibility till you’re your husbands responsibility” was an often chanted thing, a solo trip seemed like a thing that would never happen. But to my great surprise it didn’t take much to convince my parents that this was safe and I would be ok.
I like to believe that over the last couple of years I have changed as a person, I have grown and become more confident. But I wanted to check if this change in personality was just situational, in that I hadn’t really changed or grown, but had just gotten comfortable in the environment that I was in. I also wanted to spend the money that I had earned this summer towards buying something that would be useful to me. After debating over buying a roomba, and realizing that they weren’t as useful as they seem to be, especially with my 400sqft apartment, I was in a bit of a dilemma as to how to spend some of m earnings this summer. I finally decided to gift myself an experience instead of a physical object.
Roaming the streets of NYC alone was one of the liberating experiences I’ve ever had. While most people are there with a group of friends, partners, parents the experience of seeing a city just for myself was powerful. I didn’t need to rush out of a place, because my travel buddies felt that we were spending too much time there. I didn’t need to spend more than 5 minutes in Times Square, just because one of my travel buddies felt that it was iconic and an experienced not to be missed. I didn’t need to sleep early because someone insisted on catching the first ferry to the Statue of Liberty and instead could stay up enjoying the wide selection of american Netflix.
But aside from the freedom, 3 days alone with myself really helped me to get to know myself. I have found out that I really don’t enjoy monuments and while I have an interest in the history of a place, usually a one line summary is what I’m looking for (Unless it’s the NYC subway or any cool engineering feat, in which case sign me the fuck up). I found out that I’m a sucker of panoramas and capturing 360 degree views in general. And despite being fascinated by the beauty of Lion King on Broadway, and the best Italian food that I’ve ever had, what really engrained itself in my memory was the fascinating things I saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the serenity of the northern part of Central Park.
New York is a city of contradictions to me, it is a city that is living and breathing oxymorons and displaying the multiple dimensions of the humans that inhabit it. Times Square for me was an extremely underwhelming yet overwhelming experience. While the crowds made me anxious, the place itself was just a bunch of shops lined, it really reminded me of some of the shopping districts in Delhi, and I wondered why anyone would travel across the world just to experience Times Square. Central Park, an amazing venture by the Parks and Recreation department of NY, a respite from the busy city, is quite literally a breathing testament to how many opposites really exist in this city. Just a couple of blocks away from the capitalist haven that is Times Square you have the wavering lanes of Central Park. In fact even the history of the city was plagued by contradictions, for example women weren’t allowed to attend the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty. But most of all I felt like a contradiction in this city, I was scared yet fearless. I constantly felt like I was running late, but also at the same time knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that time. And finally in the presence of the magnanimity of the city I felt small, and yet I had never felt quite as big before.
The city helped me embrace these contradictions that I was feeling, I bought a dress for the first time wasn’t a monochrome colour, or a very simple pattern. It was loud and bright, and yet it was classy and the most beautiful thing I think I own. As the woman at the store said we owe it to ourselves as women to take a chance and stop playing it safe. Aside from the trip, this dress was my gift to myself. A reminder to explore, to step out of my comfort zone and finally embrace the multitudes that make me who I am.
A picture of me admiring the sheer genius of the costume of scar, and wearing the outfit.