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Maybe my romanticism with New York is shading my vision with a rosy tint, but if so, let this premonition never end. I’ve fallen in love with this place — with the insomniac charm of the city that never sleeps, the humming of each and every New Yorker’s vitality, and the microcosms of all the nooks and boroughs.

In other words, I partake in the same love affair as every other college student and her twice-removed cousin. Nothing unique here.

This past weekend, I bus’d to New York City with Mary, a fellow goob and kindred spirit. She’s kindred in that we both snoozed our alarms Saturday morning and obliviously, groggily went back to sleep. As a result, as we sweatily scurried to the Megabus stop 10 minutes late, we witnessed the bus pull out and drive off before our very eyes, leaving nothing but a puff of dust and pangs of remorse…

But fret not: we eventually hopped on a Greyhound and arrived in NYC. As we sauntered through the Aves and the St’s, we constantly meandered into markets, pop-up exhibits, small eateries, and interesting spaces that caught our eyes. As the excited visitors we were, we would exclaim every five minutes,”Holy crap. I love this place”, never failing to rediscover our unfettered fondness for the place.

The subway system has a special place in my heart: it’s humbling and equalizing. Every human, from the big-shot businesswoman to the tourist dad with the floppy video camera, comes together in this steaming, underground tunnel. And they all share one thing in common: a desire to reach a destination.

As much as I goggle ogle over the subway, Mary and I did our best to wander as much as possible by foot and really see the city. Even though our feet felt like throbbing concrete blocks by the end of the day, our hearts were content and our eyes were dizzy from gazing at skyscrapers, navigating the winding streets of Chinatown, and staring at cafe menus, distraught from food-choice indecision…

The itinerary was loosely Chinatown → Little Italy → East Village → Muji → Soho. Yes, Muji (the retail company that sells consumer products emphasizing natural and simple design) warrants its own spot on the itinerary. Mary had never been, so we made a stop at one of the stores our #1 priority. The single writing utensil I’ve used throughout college is the 0.38 Muji pen, and the entire store is a haven for stationery junkees like myself who need their monthly fix of (probably useless) notebooks, portable scissors, and clear acrylic containers.

We also stumbled upon The Strand, which is a 3-floor bookstore that is so densely populated with multifarious books that I feel like it might implode. Because we didn’t have much time, we rushed through the store, but I would love to go back and slowly make my way through all the art and art history books…I felt oddly nostalgic for early high school summers spent at bookstores when I would ask my mom to drop me off at Barnes and Noble. For the entire afternoon, I would situate myself at a table with an ambitious stack of manga volumes and young adult fiction. Onlookers must have given perplexed looks at the tiny Asian girl buried under a pile of hodge podge books. But how could I have known? I was frantically racing against the clock to devour the book before my mom (and reality) would return to pick me up. These were good days…

Dear NYC, my heart is so full. You are a panacea for the soul. There is so much to this tiny chunk of island…so much vibrance, charm, and absurdity. I’ll come back soon!


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