Growing up on the West Coast in a suburb outside of Seattle, I was a well traveled kid. With immigrant parents I had checked off places like Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines before I hit a double digit age, but domestic travel? That was a whole other ball game. The first time I traveled anywhere past the Pacific Standard Time Zone was the first time I went to NYC my Senior year of high school and I remember it like it was yesterday when my friend Leigh told me, "Tabitha, you're going to love it! It's soooo you." And she was right. It was so me and even though I've never lived in the city, it feels like home.
It wasn't until 2006 that I returned to NYC after my first trip in 1998, all thanks to my job that had a bi-coastal team based in LA and NY. Since that first trip it started a re-occuring visit and sparked my love for the city. My first solo trip to NYC plays a significant role on how I view the city. I was there for a whole week, only really knowing my co-workers who lived there and I made it my goal to experience the city the way a local would. I remember walking the streets by myself for the first time, jaywalking like a pro and taking the subway downtown to stroll around SOHO. While I loved my time alone, loneliness gave me an opportunity to re-connect with people in the city that I hadn't seen in years like my old boss when I was a young intern at Ticketmaster or a childhood friend from the Philippines who happened to work in the hotel I was staying. By the end of that week I lacked sleep, had aching feet and felt more independent. After that trip, going to NYC has felt like second nature and the more I visited, the more it reminds me of why I love it.
New York, to me, is a place of discovery and a place for the un-expected to happen. At any given moment you can be walking down a street and discover something that can change your views on life. At the same time, you can be wandering the city and bump into a friendly and familiar face that allows you to re-connect with someone you once knew well. Every trip I take I have no expectations and no set plans, but leave always feeling so fulfilled and refreshed because I experienced something I didn't plan for.
In the last 10 years I've been extremely fortunate to take at least 2 - 3 trips to NYC every year. Thankfully my work always brought me back to the city and while my current job doesn't give me that luxury, my in-laws have since moved to NYC making our trips more of a family experience. Since birth, Liam has been lucky to come to NYC at least 1 - 2 times a year and this past trip made me realize how much he loves NYC as much as I do. He walks down the street saying hi to the doormen and knows that the pedestrian sign doesn't dictate whether we can walk or not. He knows that a subway is the only means of getting anywhere with limited traffic and he especially loves that most meals are eaten out due to small kitchens. Every time we are in NYC he dreads leaving, largely because his grandparents live there, but proof that he's in love with the city as much as I am was when he asked me, "Mom, do you think we look like we live here?" It mattered to him that people saw him as a local and we chatted a bit about how he wants to live in NYC when he gets a family of his own. Even thought he's 4 it means something to him to feel comfortable in the city and it means so much to me that at a young age he appreciates (and loves) something that took me 17 years to discover.