One of the perks of my new lifestyle is that I find myself in different neighborhoods in New York at different times of the day – times when, before, I would have been busy entering data or answering phones at my old desk job. I love being out and about in New York City. It’s part of the reason I’ve lived here for over 11 years and don’t see myself moving anytime soon.
I often have to make deliveries for Fanny & Jane to different places in the city, and I used to squeeze them in during lunch breaks or before work, but now, making the deliveries is part of my job! My new job. Which is a great job, by the way.
So now I get to take my sweet time traveling around town when I make these deliveries. I’ve gotten to see lots of interesting office buildings I’d probably never otherwise visit (I was at the massive advertising agency, JWT, the other day. Their offices are enormous and stunning.), and I’ve gotten to take trips to lots of neighborhoods in which I don’t otherwise spend much time.
On Tuesday, I found myself right near Grand Central. The sun had just set, you know, at like 4:00pm (It’s such an adjustment, isn’t it? Every year!), and after I dropped off an order of 60 Red Velvet Cake Bites at a building nearby, I decided to venture into the Grand Central Market.
It’s a narrow marketplace inside Grand Central Station, filled with specialty meats, cheeses, breads, coffees, fruits, and sweets and it’s always been closed every other time I’ve walked by, making me very curious. Of course, I had to stop in.
Once inside, I was delighted. I found myself standing in what is essentially a busy and long hallway of gourmet food, most of which is way too expensive for my budget, but it was all nice to look at. The aromas alone were incredible. I walked around gazing at fancy cheeses and dreaming of a day when money is no object.
As if all this weren’t enough to make my afternoon special, I’d already had another adventure earlier in the day. I’d found myself on the west side of Manhattan just as the sun was setting. This is the perfect time of day to be in that neighborhood, as the light dances off the buildings and the river. I was making another delivery of Cake Bites to another fancy office building and when I walked out to head back to the bus, I looked up to see the High Line.
If you don’t live in New York, you might not know that the High Line is a brand new park just opened this summer, which runs along the west side of Manhattan, and is built onto old elevated train tracks that were unused and abandoned for years before someone decided to turn them into a park.
Many New Yorkers have already made their way up to the High Line by now, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
Interestingly (to me, at least), when I first started college in 1998, my acting school studio was located right next to the train tracks that are now the High Line. I walked by it every day, and would often look up to it and wonder why it wasn’t being used. It was strange to be back in that neighborhood, which has changed SO DRAMATICALLY since I moved to New York.
I’d spent many years during many different phases of my life hanging out on those few blocks. I remember walking to that neighborhood for the very first time ever as a 17-year-old college Freshman, noticing how incredibly far away it felt from the rest of the city. When I first moved to New York, I was not used to walking the distances that you’re expected to walk in this town. I got used to it very quickly, however.
I also remember noticing how incredibly dingy and forgotten that west side ‘hood felt at the time. Then I thought about how I used to fill my car up at the gas station on the corner (during the ill-fated months that I had a car in the city), and how I used to walk through Chelsea Market, a fresh food marketplace that has since become famous for its wares, when it had just opened and there were only a few vendors inside.
I thought about how I’d walked up and down those blocks fat, skinny, broke, not broke, as an acting school student, as an employee of my former acting school, in the midst of severe depression, in the midst of getting better. I even remember exactly where I was standing on West 16th Street when I said the words aloud to myself, “I lost 100 pounds,” because I hadn’t yet, but I was practicing what it would feel like to be able, one day, to say that I had.
The point is, it’s a neighborhood very much a part of my having grown up, in a sense, in New York City. It was thrilling to see it alive with so many shops, restaurants and young, exciting companies, and of course, this beautiful elevated park that boasts rare views of the river, New Jersey and the rest of Manhattan, especially at sunset.
So I had to walk up to the High Line. And I’m glad I did. Even though I had other deliveries to make and part of my brain was tugging on me to be on my way and not stop and gawk at my surroundings.
But then I remembered! This is why I quit my job! So that my time is my own to do with what I please, so that I can enjoy my life and revel in being a young woman in the prime of her life in this amazing city. I would not have gotten to see this park at this particular time of day on this particularly balmy November afternoon, had I not quit my job and started a sweets company that allows me to travel around delivering sweets to hungry New Yorkers.
And that’s all there is to it. That alone is reason enough to believe that this transition has been the right move at this time in my life.
And of course I couldn’t help but become a little sappy and reflective about how far I’ve come. If you’d have told me 7 years ago, when I was filling up my little Honda at that gas station as an obese, miserable young lady trying to figure my way out of the mess of my life, that I’d one day be walking along these very streets in such a strong, positive, spiritually wealthy place, and working for my own small business, I’m not sure I would have believed you.
Here’s to progress. Neighborhoods change. And people do too.