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Visiting New York City For The First Time

In the vast mythology of New York City, it is a land of dreams, the place to become who you always wanted to be. But in my mind, I had always associated New York with the scene from Enchanted when Giselle, stumbling along the busy streets in her white wedding dress, is helpless against the crowd that pushes her down the subway stairs. When she emerges, hours later, she is all alone, still helpless, and still confused. It is a sad scene for Giselle, but the dazzling, overwhelming blur of the city was an image that somehow lingered with me, remained in the back of my mind as I traveled to the city for the first time in January 2018. 

Image via Pinterest

I flew in at the JFK International Airport, wandered around lost for a couple minutes, but finally managed to ride the train to Penn Station, where I found my way up the subway stairs, away from the dimly-lit station, and out to the streets of the city. The initial moment of simply taking everything in – the skyscrapers, the melting snow, the yellow taxis, the bustling crowds of people on the sidewalk – is still a vivid memory. 

Near midnight on my last day was when I saw the skyline. The night made it difficult to locate specific landmarks, but even just standing there – above all the skyscrapers, the dazzle of lights that now looked like confetti – was an experience that made me feel incredibly small, made me wonder what it would feel like to let myself fall into it like it was an ocean. And it was easy to understand its appeal, why such a city is the subject of innumerable films, books, songs, and works of art even when it is flawed, messy, and not exactly the “land of dreams” in reality. Its streets are filled with all kinds of people with different styles, from different countries speaking different languages, and the city itself – with its constant noise, busy streets, and neon lights – has an energy, a quality so inexplicably full of life. New York City is a certain kind of madness, but it definitely is a beautiful one.  

Dede Ahn

UCSB '20

Dede is a first year English major at UCSB. 
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