“These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you…”
Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z
Dear New York,
When I was on the plane from CDG to JFK four months ago, I had many expectations. This trip was about becoming successful in different parts of my life. I wanted to lose weight and look better, I yearned to find someone to fall asleep next to and I was determined to carve a path for my future career. I desperately needed a new beginning and, whether it was magic or my own doing, things definitely changed for the best.
Not the way I imagined though. You had other plans for me, didn’t you? It wasn’t about numbers on a scale or romance, it was about realisation. You made me realise that it was all about balance. You made me realise that avoiding truths will only make me more miserable. You made me realise that love isn’t necessarily going to reveal itself in the shape of an attractive-smart-funny-loving man. You made me realise that life can be both a bully and a blessing at the same time – it is my responsibility to rise up and make the most of everything.
You have given me the escape I so deeply needed but never allowed me to run away from what was hurting me. You helped me face each and every one of my pains, my fears and my hopes. You made my life clearer and more blurry at the same time – I now know what I want but the future is no longer in focus. It is actually more indistinct than ever but it also leaves room for surprises and adventures. You have pushed me to figure out who it is I want to be, not what I believe others expect from me. You have taught me confidence and serendipity and to always look out for the wonders of this world. You have enlightened me as well, making me more curious, more aware, more acute of my surroundings. I went from fragile, cynical, stay-at-home Justine to strong, excited, outdoorsy Justine. You have stitched the broken pieces of my heart back together so gently, I didn’t even notice it at first. But when powerful emotions knuckle-punched me where I am the most vulnerable, I couldn’t deny the obvious any longer. My dopey heart was alive again and feelings came back rushing through my veins, tickling beneath my skin and clouding my brain. I think I am OK with that – I was always supposed to be a cry-baby anyway. And I would take anxiety over indifference any day… I guess.
All I want to say, really, is thank you. I am so grateful for the incredible memories, the awesome friendships, the extraordinary encounters, the delicious food, the gorgeous landscapes, the lovely strolls, the fun times and the unpredictable spectacles. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your colours, your brightness, your magnificence. You are the most inspirational and eye-opening city I have had the chance to live in. I miss you – the frustrating and the amazing, the rude and the friendly, the excess and the glory. I now hope that the next time we see each other, I will have made some of my dreams come true. And then you’ll be happy to know, it was all you.
New York, you were my collateral beauty. Thank you for giving me the strength not to give up and to let it all go.
With all my love,
Yet another French girl.