Have you ever moved somewhere relatively far away? When I was twenty-six, I spur of the moment moved to New York City. I had always loved visiting it and when the chance came to move there, I jumped on the opportunity. Within ten days, I found myself getting off the plane from L.A., rolling my suitcases down a street in Manhattan. I couldn’t wait to start fresh on a new coast.
I dove into New York life, immediately finding nanny jobs and a position as a server in a Japanese restaurant. I was lucky to have a friend who booked extras for TV shows, so he was able to get me working right away, as well. In addition, I scoured Instagram for photographers to shoot with, I signed with a modeling agency, and I also got into an awesome choir. I hit up all my friends who were already living in New York, and I also searched out free events to get to know the city better. Every day my smile was huge, so happy to be living there.
In the end, I only stayed for one year and three months, not because I didn’t love it. The hustle is real in New York. Though I knew that city is expensive, I learned that it really is a playground for those who are already established. That didn’t bother me, and if anything, it drove me, but most of the time that I lived there was spent working non-music related jobs. (On a side note, some of those jobs were so fun: shout out to being Lena’s nanny! That was one of my favorite experiences.) So anyway, I decided that if I was going to live in a pricey city, it would be smarter to live in L.A., where my music connections were.
Once I made the decision to move back, I went all in on soaking up New York while I was still there. My final month was amazing. I went to the Met museum with friends; I took five hour walks alone, just listening to music and admiring the architecture; I got a tattoo of the New York skyline on my ribs; I ate all my favorite bodega food. It was awesome.
One of those last days in particular stands out in my memory. I had gotten this job through the choir I was in to act as a choir member for a commercial. We shot on Roosevelt Island, which I had never been to before. It’s an interesting place, with a history of having hosted insane asylums in the past. Putting that info aside, it’s beautiful. You have views of both Manhattan and Queens, and when you leave the island to go back to Manhattan, you take this aerial tram ride that overlooks the East River.
Anyway, back to the commercial. Most of the shots took place at the stunning Four Freedoms Park. Those of us in the choir stood on the granite stairs, wearing choir robes and singing behind the little girl who was the star. There were also hundreds of other musicians, including all these guitarists that lined up along the water, playing their instruments against the city backdrop. Such an incredible sight.
The choir was used again a few hours later, when it was dark. We moved to a street nearby, where we stood under lights and sang while being drenched with water. To be fair, I don’t remember if we got hit by a fire hose or not. Whatever we were being sprayed with, it got us good. It was so funny to try to sing with water coming at your face and mascara running down your cheeks. Definitely a memorable paycheck.
After we wrapped up the shoot and changed into dry clothes, I ended up going out with the director and some others from the set that day. We drank and hung out all night, staying up until the early hours of the morning. I sat on the train back to my apartment, just smiling to myself and reliving the events of the past few hours. That shoot is one of my favorite New York memories.
I’d love to live in New York again someday; definitely when I have a more solid plan in place for the next time. In the meantime, I’m grateful for my time there. It taught me a lot about working hard, being spontaneous and just going for opportunities. If you’ve made a big move, what did you learn from the experience? I’d love to hear from you.