Several years ago, a family friend of mine sat next to a successful fashion designer on a plane from Dublin to New York. At the time, I was still in university studying for my journalism degree but I had romantic ideas that I would head Stateside once I obtained that piece of paper. My friend told her about my desire, to work in fashion in the city, and she assured him that as long as I grafted and dreamed big, anything was within my reach. She gave him her business card to give to me, but it was some three years before I made the move here and naturally the card was lost somewhere along the way.
Only last week, I read an article about the same designer in The Irish Times (her name had always stuck with me). I found her email online and reached out; she remembered the conversation with my friend and urged me to keep the faith and never lose sight of what I wanted to do.
The whole thing reminded me of that slight cliché – you never know who you are going to meet in New York. The city might have some eight million people all hustling in their own ways, but once you get here, it becomes smaller and more interconnected than you can ever imagine.
Similarly, the situations you find yourself in often beggar belief. Not a day goes by that I don’t pinch myself and stop to remember how lucky I am to live in a city that is so full of character, energy and opportunity.
I know that no matter what happens, should my New York adventure end in a few months or continue on for a few years, the following surreal moments will remain some of my most treasured.
“Only in New York can you…….”
…enjoy a McDonalds happy meal as you sit on a curb in Queens at 4am on Thanksgiving morning.
…get snowed in to work as Manhattan becomes closed off from the other boroughs due to a freak blizzard.
…go to a class in the legendary Church Street boxing gym where actors like Mark Wahlberg trained for fighting roles.
…get in an elevator with Kim Kardashian and North West.
…see the iconic photographer Bill Cunningham snapping the action at Fashion Week.
…witness a live proposal on the ‘Kiss Cam’ at a Brooklyn Nets basketball game.
…get a police escort to a front row view of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, just because you are Irish.
…ask Anna Wintour for a photo, and be turned down with one of her infamous cutting looks.
…go to Sunday night Bingo and end up on tables dancing and waving lanterns around to Elton John’s Candle In The Wind.
…spend numerous mornings watching the sunrise on a rooftop in Bushwick, listening to classics by Bowie, Blondie and Billy Joel.
…meet an editor from Playboy magazine in an East Village deli at 5am and invite them back to the afterhours sing-song that is currently going on in a bar around the corner.
…gape as the likes of Will Ferrell, David Schwimmer, Macaulay Culkin and Donatella Versace casually dine in the restaurant you work in.
…go for diner breakfasts with complete strangers, after sharing a great night out, but never see them again.
…hitch a lift through from Wall Street to Chelsea in the back of a bin truck with four other people.
…have a well known fashion designer write you a personal letter of recommendation and send it to one of the world’s most respected magazine editors (and still not get the job!)
…sit on the grass in Washington Square Park and watch the most incredible live jazz, for free.
…end up singing Christmas songs all afternoon in a paddling pool in Williamsburg, narrowly avoiding sun stroke in the blistering August heat.
…turn up for a scheduled gym class and only realise once it has begun that it is a dance workout filled with Broadway stars.
Dress: Urban Outfitters // Hat: H&M // Bag: ASOS // Shoes: Penneys (hun)
Outfit photos: Edelle Kenny