A Love Letter to New York City | @halliekwilson

New York, I Love You

I’m pausing from posts on personal style and Fashion Week today out of respect for the events on September 11.

Instead, I thought I’d write a quick anecdote about my experience on 9/11, learn more about yours, and share with you a little love letter (or rant) of sorts that I’ve written for New York City.

hudson river

THEN: On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was a sophomore in high school. More specifically, I was in my fourth period algebra class, hastily scribbling the answers to a homework assignment I’d put off the night prior. A classmate of mine ran frantically through the door, announcing that a plane had hit the north tower.

My reactionary thought was that it was a pilot’s error, but I quickly learned that this was no accident. I spent the next week heartbroken, glued to the TV, my cell phone and the Internet.

Where were you?


NOW: My family and I visited the 9/11 Memorial last month — it was the first time in 13 years I’d been back to the World Trade Center campus. It was eerily quiet yet strangely peaceful. I stood quietly for most of our time there, thinking about how my sisters and I stood atop the Towers just a decade prior, posing with peace signs in foam Statue of Liberty hats. (Tourist central, this family.)

Thirteen years ago, I dreamt that I could someday call this place home.

new york city, streets, cabs

To date, I’ve lived in Manhattan for six months and some change.

When my one-way, non-refundable flight was landing at New York’s LaGuardia airport on Feb. 27, 2013, I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of presence and gratitude. I vowed that I’d never take a day of my life in Manhattan for granted (as I’ve done time and time again since).

nyc, manhattan, skyline, sunset, city

I love New York City. I love it because it’s loud. It’s littered with light pollution. And, well, actual pollution. You seemingly spend the majority of your time at a traffic stand-still or getting yelled at by an aggressive biker to “Get out of the f—ing bike lane, d–k!” It’s busy, expensive, inconvenient and when you hate it, it hates you back so much harder.

Here, you won’t find an island of reprieve or a moment of silence. There’s rats, there’s garbage, and there’s a suffocating mix of smell and heat in the summer. It’s a town built on hustle and everyone has an agenda — one that’s often times very individualistic. Sometimes, you feel tired, your feet hurt, and, quite frankly, you don’t get paid enough for this shit.

And yet, almost all of us wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. 

madison square park

Here, I’m claustrophobic, less organized, perpetually late and occasionally, more frantic, but I wake up consistently feeling happy, independent and grateful that I live in a country where I was able to make my dream a reality.

On the weekends, I like to wander up the street, feeling what one can only describe as something out of a movie. Cheesy, I know; but it’s true. It makes me laugh that I have no sense of direction when I emerge above ground from the subway. I like to eat like a local and shop like one too. To see the trademarks, the classics, the hidden gems. To keep myself from falling too deeply into the comfort of a routine.

New York may be the city that never sleeps, but that’s simply because there’s something in the air here that renders sleep useless.

#NeverForget: Six months (and some change) ago, I was walking across Sixth Avenue at dusk after my first day on a new job. I was lost, naturally, and aimlessly wandering in the wrong direction, but I was “too New York” to ask for directions. (I’m so my father’s daughter.)

I’d happened to look up, peer downtown and see the Freedom Tower against a cloudless, colorful backdrop — slowly climbing back into the sky in all it’s glory. It felt symbolic of the process of rebuilding and a served as a humbling reminder to always be grateful.

To my parents, sisters, family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and readers, I am truly so thankful for you.

Whether you’re a New Yorker, a Midwesterner, and regardless of which Coast you call home, I hope that you, too, will steal a quiet moment to count your blessings today — even if, among them, is that green light you caught this morning or that the you were able to steal away from your desk. There’s no shame in that — sometimes it’s the little things that make the bigger picture that much more digestible.

I love you, New York, so please don’t change. I’m just not ready to settle. 


If you’re comfortable doing so, I’d love to hear your 9/11 story in the comments (or you’re welcome to e-mail me if you’d rather keep it private). We’ll return to regularly scheduled posting tomorrow, when I’ll share with you my day 3 recap from New York Fashion Week

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