I was a 25-year-old freelance model who had just come into a bit of cash and wanted to do something I considered useful to my career, never been to the United States by myself. Thinking back on it, it still really was useful to my career but definitely not in the way I had imagined. My dad told me “don’t ever go to New York, you just won’t like it, it’s gross” and now I know how much he was just lying about that fact for my protection. It seems dangerous and kind of is for someone of my ‘type.’
City life and sticking it out
My type is valley girl with heavy to severe mental illness depending on any given day/mood/timing. I ended up giving away a lot of my time and money to helping random homeless people out. Locals would see me giving cash to someone who claimed they had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Which it did, honestly, seem like something was very wrong with her body- as she was all bandaged up from surgery(and wheelchair-ridden). I think I gave them around $16 for what they said was for the train to get the two of them home. One local pulled me aside and said “Oh those two are out here every day do not give them any money.” I already gave them the money! and also who are you to tell me she doesn’t have EDS? it frustrated me to high heavens this guy thought he was doing me some kind of favour. If I could relearn these behaviours on my own wouldn’t I have tried already? There’s an overall certainty amongst most NYC locals of “knowing better” and in all honesty, they probably do have that effect on most. But for me, it’s really super important to help others and I’m not saying it as a preachy thing, it’s just who tf I am. I am a carrier of the HD gene and I will be discussing exactly what that is in a later post.
Having been used to a sort of rural home and being from the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, Canada-things like nature and freedom have their place and humans have another closeby. In New York, it is an all-consuming grey walkway comparatively. Unlucky they are that they most probably have not seen the purity of Nova Scotia in all its gloomy glory. It was a very bittersweet experience for me in the big apple, spending most of my time just walking about and visiting churches- once in a while mistakenly thinking I could walk in and ask for a bathroom in public spaces like McDonalds or Macys.
On day 1: I Got my cartoon drawn in Times Square and later, met with Chaker Khazaal, who writes for Huffington Post and has a book as well. Kind enough to allow me into his home and to introduce me to his partner. He also interviewed me on tape and said he wanted to write something but nothing ever came of that meeting so, who knows what happened? haha. I stayed my first night in Washington Heights, New York with my Airbnb and it was actually a really nice place to just go for a walk to the bodega and get a sammy or whatever, people in this area are extremely used to tourists and everyone was really helpful. The next day I took the subway with most of my items staying in a storage near Penn station and carrying around my backpack with essentials, I took the Megabus to NYC which I believe was only $85 round trip from Toronto.
The next three days I spent in Springfield Gardens in Queens, I would not recommend staying here if you are visiting just because it is about a half hour train to get back to Downtown (on a good day). Otherwise, the space I had stayed in was friendly and amazingly everyone who was staying in the Airbnb, as well as the hosts themselves, were all within the young professionals’ age range(about 20-30yrs old). so we stayed up late discussing differences and quirks of politics and religion. If you appreciate and even enjoy opposing viewpoints and a general free-range attitude with regard to rules and such..This is a great place for that.
My final few days were spent in Corona, HUGELY Spanish population with a ferret and one other lady staying in the room. I found this place the cleanest and most hospitable of all three Airbnb’s I stayed at. The host left a little chocolate on my pillow on my first night there and she made sure I knew how to find everything as the signs were all in Spanish or Portuguese. I had an amazing time enjoying the live music and fresh authentic Mexican eats like freshly squeezed juice and fresh tostadas are so delicious! YOM
Fashion Shoot My final day there was a Sunday and I had an editorial photo shoot with an amazing team to try and actually get something done while I was there for modelling purposes. I was a whole hour late because I was really bad at using the subway- even on day 6. The shoot was fun and creative and the photos turned out really well. They still make a great addition to my portfolio. On my way back to Toronto I realized it wasn’t as stressful- or at least wouldn’t have been as stressful if I wasn’t so annoyingly worried about what everything around me was up to. I got to visit Madison Square Gardens, Central Park, and Trump Tower. Five different churches. Sat upon a perfect view of the Brooklyn Bridge as the sunrise lit it up. But aside from all that I got to meet a homeless lady outside Penn Station named Angel who I ended up hanging out with for hours one night when I was really feeling that deep loneliness big cities can allow for. I also met a nice older man from Boston with a thick accent on my last day in Manhattan. The people were some of the most amazing to get to spend time with them was a real treat and a blessing. The food alone was worth it and the people were the cherry on top.