A Love Letter to New York City - Among Other Things

A Love Letter to New York City

Exactly 365 days ago, I white-knuckled the broken handles of two 50-pound suitcases (of shoes) and waved goodbye to the familiar skyline of Chicago, boarding a one-way, non-refundable flight to New York (holy shit) City.


At the moment, I’m on a red-eye flight home from San Francisco. (I’m always airborn, apparently.) It’s 1:13 a.m. and I’m drinking red wine, pouring my heart into a long-winded love letter…

I’m oddly struck by how easy the words come.


Today* is my first anniversary of moving to New York City. 

When I stepped off the plane on a brisk morning in 2013, I wasn’t greeted with open arms. I did not descend the escalator in movie scene style. I actually got frisked by TSA, pushed around at baggage claim, cut in line during an hour-long taxi queue and dropped off at the wrong hotel by my driver.


It’s been 365 days with my Manhattan. While it’s not the longest relationship I’ve had, it’s up there… and we’re still going strong.

So today’s post is a love letter devoted to you, dear New York, and our whirlwind romance. Or more specifically, to the naïve Midwestern girl who you’ve since shaped and spit out and celebrated. She’s come a long way since then, and if I could give her any advice before she steps onto that two-hour one-way flight, this is what I’d say:


Dear not-yet-in-New-York Hallie,

I know you’re anxious, so first, go ahead: Do that weird OCD shit you do when you board planes.

Now, let’s start with the good stuff. This place – the American epicenter of all things modern and relevant – is beyond. It will give you this crazy sense of gratitude, privilege and pride. It will give you your independence, a hole in your wallet, a test of your values, and a damn good time.

It will give you 24-hour convenience and the idea that you can get anything at anytime, whenever you want it. Like iced coffee and Gatorade delivered to your hungover ass at 9 a.m. (More on that in a bit.)

new york fucking city

On a more serious note, there’s a certain allure to being successful here.

I’m not talking about that “reach for the stars! follow your dreams!” shit — you really have to work for it. Move here hungry and ready to hustle outrageously hard – so much so that your family will begin to wonder if you live in that little studio apartment you’re over-paying for or a table in that coffee shop on Park Ave.

In New York City, there’s a perpetual cycle of change and adaptation and more change – and it seems to happen here faster than anywhere else in the world. It’s exhausting, frankly, but at the end of the day, it’s going to make you love this city that much more.


That’s not to say we haven’t had our disagreements, New York and I. She’ll often make you unjustifiably angry, but I guess love does that.

This city is like a jealous lover. Seriously. From the get-go, she’ll test you. She’s cut-throat, over-crowded and ridiculously expensive. New York City is served bloody rare and you’d better have a strong lining to stomach it. There will be a good amount of public crying involved, and naturally this will occur during rush hour and in the rain. You should buy some waterproof mascara.

There’s roaches, rats and rudeness. Don’t expect to find an island of reprieve or a moment of silence in New York City – oh, no. It’s loud, crowded, littered with light pollution and, well, actual pollution. It’s ALWAYS garbage day.

You’re going pay an exorbitant amount of money in rent – in a 450 square-foot space that you’ll come to love but really only use for sleeping and showering. (Also, pro tip, asshole: You’re going to wind up paying an astronomical dollar amount for the all the times you get drunk and lose your keys, so please, PLEASE; just make a copy of them.)

Despite all of this, a year from now, you’ll be head-over-high-heels in love with your city.

nyc, manhattan, skyline, sunset, city

When you first moved here, it was disgustingly romantic how you’d walk up and down the street and marvel wide-eyed at New York’s astonishing skyline. As if the city’s array of sky-scraping buildings was the most dashingly magical thing you’d ever seen in your life…

Turns out, they are.

Soon, you’ll see what I mean. Those buildings may stack a-top and crowd one another as though they’re competing for a prime spot in line at an Alexander Wang sample sale, but after a while, you’ll realize that those buildings aren’t just buildings.

In due time, stores and street corners and buildings will be paint-splattered with memories. That bar in Meatpacking will never just be a bar in Meatpacking — it’s where you over-served yourself with champagne at Charlotte Ronson’s Fashion Week after-party. The Starbucks in SoHo where you debated the frightening future with your best friend. The Container Store on Sixth Ave. where you collapsed in a fit of hysteria when you learned you landed your very first job in the city.

Soon, you won’t be able to walk around this place without feeling like buildings and Avenues are whispering back your secrets in a fit of nostalgia, laughing and crying with you as you walk hurriedly by.

And even on your very worst days – this city will back-hand you in the face with love. So much goddamn love.


A year from now, Hal, your life will never be the same – or imagined anywhere else. It will always yearn for drunk food delivery and dance parties 4 a.m. For champagne-soaked sunrises, coffee bars on every corner and subway cars that rattle your innermost thoughts.

Most notably, you will soon meet and befriend an incredible crew of people who make this expensive, tumultuous, adventurous life in New York City worth living. Together, there will be dive bars, late nights and awkward mornings in unfamiliar boroughs. There will be vodka sodas and soul-confirming conversations. These people will become your family. Your anchor in a city of chaos.


Life has a way of happening and plans often change faster than you can even make them. And as I’ve told you before, don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. So with that, my advice to you:

Live it up, girl.

Treat this metropolitan jungle of yours like a juicy orange on a hot summer day: Suck the pulp dry and Live. It. Fucking. Up.

Hallie (your no-longer-new-to-New-York counterpart)

white jeans, booties for fall, cheap, aldo, affordable, black, zippered

image sources 1, 23 & via coralsandcognacs.com

 *My actual one-year anniversary in New York was last week, but I wasn’t quite ready to hit publish. 

Join the Convo:

  • Hallie!!! This is so beautiful. And actually made me tear (don’t hold that against me). I’m currently home for Spring Break, and as soon as I stepped foot in the city, I let out a breath of fresh (okay, not-so-fresh) air. I found myself at 230 Fifth on Friday night, hello being a tourist in my own city, and looking up at the Empire State Building made me realize that this is the best and greatest city in the world. Seriously, it doesn’t compare to any other place in this universe. I’m so happy I get to share my love of the city with people like you!

    Pink Champagne Problems

  • Love this because I so badly needed to read it. I’m currently debating putting up a way emotional post I drafted this weekend since NYC has been badly beating me down these past 2 weeks. As hard as it’s been it’s also good to remember the good that NYC gives and the once in a lifetime, wouldn’t trade it for the world moments. I need some of those right about now 🙂 Congrats on your one year- I for one am DAMN HAPPY you moved here!

  • Perfection! Moving to a new place is scary as hell, yet I can’t even imagine moving to NYC on my own. I would have pooped myself more than I care to publicly admit! And I don’t think parental units will ever understand how much housing costs these days. My parents still freak out when they hear how much my rent used to be or how much my mortgage is now. Sorry I didn’t buy a house in the 80s!


  • Hallie, I LOVE this. I wrote a similar post on my two-year last fall, but I should have taken more time to work on it like you did because you nail what it’s like, so much. It’s really hard to believe some days that I moved here when I was 22, without a job, not knowing a single person out of all eight million, and then to look at where I am almost three years in. A friend of mine put it great when we had a heart-to-heart about whether or not we’d ever leave: New York City is like a slightly abusive, extremely glamorous boyfriend that you love to show off to everyone who doesn’t live here (aka know the reality).

    You’re doing great things, girl, and you’re going to keep growing here 🙂

    • Aw, thanks girl! I love that analogy… So on-point. I really enjoyed your letter to NYC, too – I remember reading it!

      See you soon, I’m sure. x

  • Amazing!! Such an awesome tribute to a great (and sometimes terrifyingly scary) place. I’m coming up on three years in the city – and never in a million years would I believe I would end up here, but I love it.

  • Wow, you certainly have a way with words Hallie! Awesome post & I totally relate, as a gal who has moved to 2 different countries in 3 years, it can be tough but the experience is life changing in the best way possible!


  • Andi

    LOVED this post! I lived in the City for 4 years and miss it so much. Can totally relate to everything said.

  • Ah I love this post – it makes me SO excited to move there for the summer!

    Peyton Taylor

  • Such a great post! Happy anniversary!
    I’m incredibly jealous of your not-so-new home 😉

    Because I’m Obsessed

  • Meagan

    Happy Anniversary! 🙂 What a beautiful post! Congrats on going after your dreams and having a fabulous time pursuing what makes you happy! Cheers to you!

  • LOVE THIS Hallie! While we miss you in Chicago, I totally get this. I moved to NYC a decade ago with little money and no place to live and it gave me the most life and secured my belief that I can do anything!

    My friend and I dubbed it “Living and Dying in New York” but we would not have had it any other way.

    I tell people all the time about the times I would hope a #103 bus heading uptown at 3 am and it was full of people and how I feel safer in NYC than I do in Chicago and most people who have never experienced it just don’t get it.

    NYC is that love that tries, tests and fulfills you like no other and I miss her daily.

    Happy New York-a-versary!

    • A-men. I love this! And I had no idea you lived (and died) in New York. So cool! Will definitely be shooting you an e-mail on my next trip to Chi-town. We have so much to catch up on!!!!

  • Amazing!!!I enjoyed reading this sooo much!

  • You’re so freakin’ cool Hallie.. haha.. no but seriously I’m amazed at your independence and hustlin’ heart! You are SO Carrie!
    Happy one year in NYC!
    Although I secretly kind of wish you were in Chicago still so I could just drive north and meet/shop with you! : )


    • I am back in Chicago somewhat often (for blogger meet-ups, especially) so I’ll give you a shout next time I’m heading to town, lady!

  • This was truly a beautiful read! Thank you for sharing!
    Kristin of LivingInColorPrint.com

  • Caitlin

    I’ve been casually following your blog for maybe 6 months now. I love your style, not only for what it is, but for your ability to ROCK the shit out of literally anything. I’m moving to NYC in three weeks (from Pittsburgh), and this post nearly made me cry. I’ve never commented before, but you finally inspired me to drop a line. Your writing is beautiful, and I think you make every girl who reads this feel like she could be your best friend…at least that’s how I feel. And don’t worry, if I ever spot you on the streets of NYC, I will more than likely maul you and ramble on about how much I love your blog and your life in general.

  • oh Hallie… Miss you! And where was the part about thanking me?!? Joking 🙂

  • Sam

    Absolutely love this. You should write longer posts/love letters more often! Seriously though, you captured life here so well. I have a love/hate relationship with New York City. I’m not sure that I would live here if not for Rob, who’s a born and bred New Yorker. That said, there are days when I feel so lucky to be in this great city with access to so many things and people and opportunities. But, there are other days where I’m overwhelmed by the noise, discouraged by the rat race, and annoyed by the tourists. It really is an amazing place though, and you should be so proud of all that you have accomplished in just one year here. Can’t wait to see where the next year takes you!


    • Thank you so much, Sam. I didn’t realize Rob was a born-and-bread NY’er! Hoping to see you guys out and about soon.

  • Nnenna

    This is beautiful Hallie- I loved reading this post. I moved here nearly 3 years ago and sometimes I still can’t quite believe that I live here. You’re totally right though, it can be REAL tough at times. But then you’ll have a really amazing, NYC-only moment and forget about the hardships. I don’t know if I’ll stay here forever and ever but I know it’s where I belong for now.

  • Some day girl for SOME day. it will happen. I will never forget my magic in NYC

  • Wow! Amazing how time flied. I can’t believe it has already been a little over a year since you made the big leap! It’s been fun following along on your adventures and relearning the city again. I miss it – especially now during this horrible WI winter. Here’s hoping the next year will be as memorable and amazing as the first. – Katy

    • Totally. Seems like yesterday we were grabbing a drink in River North at your event! Hope all has been great with you in WI this past year. x

  • This is beautiful! It’s amazing how a city can help us come into the fullness of who we are. Cheers to you!


  • Absolutely love this! Your writing style rocked! Glad you are adjusting to NY. This post made me want to pack up my bags in Chicago and come and join you!


    • Do it! But visit in April or May — like Chicago, the city comes alive when warmer weather hits! It can be BRUTAL in the summer, though; very hot-and-humid.

  • This was amazing! I don’t ever comment (I’m not sure why, lol) but I adore your blog. It’s been so fun to be along for the ride on this journey of yours. Definitely one of my favorite posts! Congrats to you and your love, NYC! xo, Rita

  • It’s so interesting to read this because I have an opposite story. After living there for a couple of years, I realized that New York wasn’t the place for me, so I took the leap of faith and moved to Chicago (we switched places!). It’s been such a great decision for me- there is something about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself to “Live. It. Fucking. Up.” Haha such wise words!!!
    Thanks for sharing,
    Lauren at http://www.lakeshorelady.com

    • We did indeed! Chicago made a huge imprint on my heart — it will forever be a super-special place to me and I love living vicariously and nostalgically through you girls! Those winters though… Lol: Hope you are managing them this year. x

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  • Thanks so much for sharing your NYC story. I just recently found your blog through another blog who linked your hilarious NYFW stories. Your writing style, humor and ability to convey the real person behind the blog definitely comes through and is a rare gift to have in the fashion blog arena. Best of luck and much success.

    • Thank you so much, Tina! That means so much to me. And really happy you found corals + cognacs!

  • Sophie Hays

    Hi Hallie!
    I’m a college freshman at the University of Georgia and I stumbled upon your letter today while avoiding all real responsibility and I just wanted to thank you so much for publishing it. I plan on moving to NYC the summer after I graduate and I’ve had that plan for essentially my entire life, but when I started school at UGA, a lot of people (who mostly grew up in rural parts of Georgia and intend on staying there) questioned my decision and I started having a hard time believing I would ever make it out of Georgia and make it in NYC. Your letter was exactly what I needed to keep up my resolve and stay motivated because the reason I work so hard at everything is to end up in New York having the crazy, whirlwind adventures you wrote about. Again, thank you so much for sharing your love and for being a huge inspiration!

    • Hi Sophie, thanks for sharing your story! I can relate to a lot of what you’re going through — many of my friends back home questioned my dream to live in such a concrete jungle for the majority of my adult life.

      My best advice to you at the moment? Don’t blink. 🙂 Keep dreaming, girl — but don’t forget to live it up and enjoy your time at UGA. Your Manhattan dream will still be here after those four years are up!

  • This is pretty much one of the best pieces on NYC I’ve read! I moved here (from Chicago!!) last June and am quickly approaching the 1 year mark. Nothing could have prepared me for the adventure that NYC had in store…in the best possible way! This city continues to inspire and amaze me daily, and I somehow continue to fall more in love with it with each passing day (even on the worst days when the city is a cruel cruel biatch).

    • My fellow Chicago girl! Very well-said; I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for taking the time to comment! Hope to see you out and about at an event here soon.

  • Wonderfully beautiful! Love NYC forever!

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  • lilyamaranth

    What a heart-poured letter to NYC! Would it be too cliche to say that I actually feel envious of everybody that lives in NYC? That’s probably because living in NYC has been and still is my greatest dream of all, ever since I was a little girl and I’m 25 now 🙂 I visited twice, but it was only for 5 days each time – not even remotely enough time to grasp the beauty and magic and diverse breath of New York. He took my heart away and it’s still there, on every sidewalk and corner coffee shop and all… NY does that to you. I poured out my heart as well in a piece of writing about NYC: http://nekoimalinestapisatelski.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/nyc/. Moving to NYC might not be that difficult, but I live in a very small country across the Atlantic and all I have is my dream to one day live there… If that happens, maybe we’ll bump into each other on the street :)))

    Thank you for a beautiful post!

    Lily A.

    • I loved reading your post, too, Lily. Thank you for sharing. : ) And yes, do let me know when you make your way to this side of the Atlantic!

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  • Hailey

    Hi Hallie! What a wonderful post to read. Definitely needed to see this today. I am a recent college graduate from a one red-light sort of town in Georgia. My one dream that has remained with me since I was a little girl trotting around in my mother’s pumps was to move to NYC. Now that I am all grown up (so to speak… at 5’2″ its hard to feel “grown up”) this dream has the potential to become a reality. Although it has been quite harder than what I thought (aka: finding a job in NYC). But after reading your post it has most definitely restored my faith. I am inspired by your fearlessness and it gives me hope that my dream will come true (soon!).

    Thanks again,

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  • Hi Hallie!
    This was exactly what I needed to read today. Every time I start to question whether I will actually make it to NYC after graduation, I stumble upon motivational gems like this. Thanks for inspiring me (again) today!

    Toodlebelle’s Blog

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  • Just to echo what everyone else has said – this is so beautifully written, so inspiring, and so so real. I don’t even live there and I believe every single word you just wrote. Gives me the urge to take that leap sometime soon!

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  • Kelley Rose

    Next Wednesday, June 1st, I’m doing this same thing and I’m all at once petrified and filled with anticipation. It will either be the craziest or most enchanting thing I’ve ever done…..or perhaps the perfect combination. Thanks for this post.

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