In the lead up to Christmas I felt like I was beginning to get in stride with my work/life balance. I’d set myself daily goals, made time for friends & family and had begun catching up on my writing about some of the amazing places I had visited in 2014; but after a chaotic but fun family trip to Paris for Christmas and New Years and a somewhat tumultuous trip to London, I found myself in a rut and wasn’t sure how to get out.
So, I booked a very last-minute trip to New York.
Why New York? It’s one of my favourite cities in the world and the first city I visited solo. I have good friends there from my time working at an American summer camp, plenty of creative friends – writers, bloggers, editors, photographers – and friends I’ve made on the road. Being surrounded by the energy of New York and having some good times with the people who live there was exactly what I needed; or so I thought.
New York, New Adventure, No Technology
I came to New York for an adventure, hoping that it would help put me back on the right track. While searching for a tour that offered a unique perspective of The City, I came across Rabbi Epstein’s tour of Crown Heights, which I’ll be writing about early next week. It was just the slightly different-from-the-norm adventure I needed.
Due to the cold weather, the other people on the tour cancelled and I was given a private tour of the Hasidic Jewish area of Crown Heights. The suburb itself is an interesting place – with the Hasidic community living alongside families who rely on EDM (food stamps) and a up-and-coming hip area, treating some of the families out as prices begin to rise. I’m seriously considering spending more time in the neighbourhood when I’m back in New York.
While I was in The City, I also had the great pleasure to meet up with new friends and old. The wonderful Aaron from Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures showed me some of his favourite places to eat in the East Village and his favourite place to see the Manhattan skyline, I unfortunately just missed my friend Stephan who is co-founder of Walks of Italy and Walks of New York and my friends from Jersey headed over to show me their ‘backyard’.
When I met up with one of my friends, Mitch, and told him how I was feeling he invited me to head across the Hudson for a ‘proper New Jersey Experience’, complete with diner food, burgers, tax-free shopping (huzzah!) and plenty of movie watching. He also took me and his best mate, Yev, together to have some of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten at Cubby’s BBQ in Hackensack.
In turn, I showed Mitch a slice of New York from my eyes. I introduced him to Shake Shack (quite possibly the best burger franchise in the US), went to see Aladdin on Broadway, and ate at Miss Korea BBQ (hands down the best Korean BBQ in NYC and open 24-7!)
For a week, his family adopted me as one of their own and I was forced to relax, slow down and run on Jersey time.
Somewhere amongst the relaxing and day-trips to The City I forgot to use my phone, didn’t use WiFi (except when using Google Maps, searching for movie times, and the one time I tried to do work in a local cafe), and didn’t take my camera outside once (something I’m thankful for but also regret a little as I have no photos from my time in New York and New Jersey).
It was kind of perfect.
2015 – the year of…?
Another theme that seemed to be shared amongst all of the people I met up with while in America was that change is, or is needing, to happen; and it gave me the chance to consider what my next steps for 2015 and beyond are, something I don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about.
One friend is studying for their CPA (accounting) in order to further their career; another friend is seeking stability after years of short-contracts and freelance work – something that scares them and excites them; and another pulled out of a Master’s degree because he realised was leading to a place that he wasn’t passionate about, and has since been gaining work experience in areas where he thinks might want to work which has helped discover areas that he’s passionate about but had forgotten.
My trip to New York/New Jersey left me with more questions than answers; and that’s a good thing because it’s forcing me to consider what I want and where I want to go. I have a plan for Bitten by the Travel Bug but I don’t have a plan for Nicole.
I don’t have the answer yet – and I’m okay with that. I’m settling back into being back in Australia, trying to get over a cold (damn you weather changes!) and refocusing on that work/life balance.
Let me know in the comments