Hey, I'm Not Dead! I'm in Love
It's been a while. In case you were wondering, I didn't die. I made it back to Brooklyn after an exciting summer abroad and a fun trip to Oregon for my mother's wedding. Here's a quick update!
You know how when you’re in love, your perception of things tend to be slightly skewed?
My Summer At a Glance:
- London Internship: May-July
- Mom's Wedding: July 21
- Returned to New York: Aug. 16
- Orientation at The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT): Aug. 21
- Moved into my Apartment in Brooklyn (75mins from school by train) Aug. 27
- First day of classes: Aug 28
The sun shines a little brighter, for instance. You don’t know what day it is or what you ate for breakfast. Did you, in fact, eat breakfast? It doesn’t matter. You’re in love. You spill your coffee in your lap? No worries. You’re in love.
I was floating down 28th Street this morning, grinning like a fool when I stopped in my tracks. The grinning was passable, and not particularly out of character, but was I really seeing flowers everywhere? Like everywhere? And singing?
I had my great grandmother's floral scarf knotted up in my bouffant bun -- something only love could grant me the audacity to do.
This is too much, I thought to myself. You have a problem.
I looked down at my black tennis shoes. They were touching the ground. Ok. I brought my coffee up to my smile to dilute the grin, leaving a bright red crescent around the rim of the paper cup. Ok.
As for the flowers, and singing, the train station nearest to my school just happens to come out in the heart of the flower district, and an African American duo in their sixties were harmonizing “Under the Boardwalk” from an abandoned staircase up the street.
I may be in love, but not out of my mind just yet.
Today marks my third day of school at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and my second week living in Brooklyn. This week also marks the one year anniversary of my arrival in New York city to stay, the second anniversary of my very first visit to FIT (And Nicole Miller), and the third anniversary of my debut at Portland Fashion Week.
Kind of a nostolgic time of year, eh?
Many would agree that the word “love” is wildly overused in our society. We “love” pizza. We “love” shoes. We “love” Johnny Depp. It’s not to say one can’t feel strongly about those things, but I don't know, does “love” make the cut?
I am in love with New York City.
When I first came to New York to look at FIT, my mind was made up that New York was not for me. In contrast to flowers and sunshine and music, I saw 1960’s vomit architecture, dirty sidewalks, and a sea of people that I had no intention of caring for or feeling a part of.
FIT was not an attractive campus. The people who worked in administration were about as welcoming as yellow jackets, and the hallways smelled more like hospital antiseptic than a fresh box of crayons. The building was boxy and prison-like, and the students wandered about like sleep-deprived zombies.
But that’s when it clicked for me. At the other schools I'd visited, the perfectly coiffed students were gossiping around art-deco coffee tables. Here they looked like an unmade bed, but were wielding full garment bags, tattered portfolios, and true determination. They were learning the things I so badly want to know.
New York is like that. It’s messy and loud and full of Type A personalities fighting to make rent. But I’ll argue that New York is also a city where a lawyer wearing Prada shoes can be found sitting next to a homeless man on the subway, talking about the T.V. shows they both loved as kids. It’s a place where people from Roosevelt to Jordan to Sinatra were able to rise from the sidewalks into the pages of History books. It’s where the waiters have been serving at the same establishments for over forty years.
No one is unapproachable. Everyone has common ground, and they know it. They utilize it.
The administrative staff at my school may have been less than charming, but my teachers are all industry professionals who are happy to be where they are. They teach because they want to give back to their industry, and to their city. They want their students to succeed.
My landlady, Mrs. Gnerre, came to New York City from Italy in the 60’s with a baby on her hip and a dream for better life. Her oldest granddaughter is now studying at Harvard University.
I am in love with New York City.
Some days I ride the ferry from 59th street in Brooklyn to the Wall Street Port. I pass by the Lady of the Harbor, welcoming the tired, poor, huddled masses to partake in the American Dream from across the glittering waves. She lifts her torch to the heavens and I can’t help but gape at the prospect of her extending a place for me here too.
Walking from Wall Street to the Fulton Center, I once passed a dignified man dressed head to toe in a fine black suit. Black hair, blue eyes. He held his briefcase in one hand and a massive lollipop in the other. The swirls in the candy matched the man’s vibrant striped socks peeking out from his fashionably short trousers.
As I waited for the train another time, a long-haired man with a hundred tiny bells threaded through his shoe laces sang and beat a plastic bucket to the happiest of small songs.
And I’ll never forget the man behind me in the deli grabbing lunch on his way home from the pet store. He was stout and aged about fifty, with an incredible handlebar mustache. He introduced me to the little amber fish in the clear bag he held, and told me all about what his new friend needed in order to live. What plants he liked. What other kinds of fish he would enjoy as company. Then he trotted out the door, sandwich and fish in tow, and we parted ways like old friends.
The list goes on. I just love New York City.
Teenage boys with pants slung around their knees and tattoos up their arms hurriedly give up their seats on the subway for the pregnant lady or grandfather. Children rush to return dropped belongings to pedestrians.
My apartment isn’t a 1920’s schoolhouse with floor-to-ceiling windows and a full basement studio like Oakview in Scio, but I am in love.
It doesn't hurt that my landlady has pretty much taken me in as her adopted grandaughter.
I'll tell you right now, that if you ever get to choose a surrogate grandmother, choose an Italian lady.
When I first got back to Brooklyn, my apartment wasn't quite ready so Mrs. Gneere generously let me stay in her guest room. I ended up with food poisioning the night before my first day at F.I.T. She literally held my hair back while I threw up and then made me chicken soup.
Now that I'm moved into my apartment, every once in a while, she knocks on my door with a plate of steaming Italian food.
Did I mention that I love New York City?
After years of running in circles, chasing dreams that I never could understand in entirety, I’ve slammed straight into love. And it's slammed straight into me. After a year of living out of a suitcase and sleeping on a couch, I have an entire drawer dedicated to my socks and a bed that can keep the blankets on all day long.
I have hundreds of classmates that are just like me. They have come from all over the globe to be welcomed by Lady Liberty, to the city of dreamers who become doers.
This relationship may not be long term. Odds are that this is a temporary fling. Heck, fashion might not even be the route I end up going. But I don’t think there’s such a thing as “falling out of love.”
I don’t think I’ll ever forget this feeling; Eighteen and In Love. Young, stupid, perhaps. But so in love.
If you’re reading this, I have you to thank for all this. I want you to know I love you too. Thank you for always supporting me over the years. Thank you for the scraps of fabric. The time invested in teaching me. Thank you for being at my shows. Thank you for building me a legit catwalk one time. Thank you for praying for me.
Thank you for loving me.