Column: New to New York


Layla Healey

Staff writer Layla Healey reflects on her first visit to New York City.

Layla Healey, Staff Writer

The woman on the small overhead screen thanked us for choosing American Airlines for “[she] knows [we] have a lot of options”. And as the four bell sounds echoed in my popped ears, flight 2345 was airborne on its way to The Big Apple, taking me with it.

My mom’s brother passed away in April 2018, and she realized how short life is. She wanted to show me “the world was bigger than what [my] fingertips could touch.” As our jetlagged bodies stepped out of the subway station on the corner of 42 Street and Eighth Ave., the twinkling lights licked at our faces as we stared at the shining city.

The Sheraton Inn welcomed us with an automatic spinning door and smells of high-end perfumes as the elegant men and women strutted through the lobby. We lugged our bags to the elevator and barely found our way to room 1234. Starving from the plane ride, we asked a plump bellhop with Andy on his slightly fingerprinted gold name tag what he suggested. Without hesitation, he pointed us in the direction of a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint called Angelo’s. We walked in to be seated upstairs and as we ate the deliciously fresh, greasy pizza, the late 80’s hit, Man in the Mirror, played faintly over the speakers. 

Although rising with the sun has never been something my mom and I have ever been fond of, New York awoke the early bird in us. We strolled out of our hotel room into the streets of Times Square where we were confidently vulnerable in encountering the new city. Our second Subway experience concluded with arriving in a brightly lit mall with the inside resembling an enormous rib cage. Walking out of the skeletal building we saw the foundation of the 2001 tragedy. The air was thick with sorrow and the brisk wind couldn’t freeze the tears that flowed within the fountain where the Twin Towers once stood. Spending over five hours in the museum of respectful heartache, we concluded the day with dinner 102 stories high in the One World Observatory. The walls made of glass allowed us to look across the glowing city where every light was bright enough to cause the stars to disappear. It was at this moment my fingertips couldn’t touch everything at once.

The door of the Sheraton scooped us onto the streets for the final day of our trip. The crowded bus streets of Fifth Avenue embraced us with impulse and temptation. The architecturally beautiful cathedral towered over us as we stared at the street lined with stores above our limited budget like Cartier; it was almost taunting us with its golden, delicate cursive letters.

Broadway. The big stage. Lights, camera, action. The lady scanned our tickets and the green confirmation light allowed us to take Staircase two to our red cushioned seats. Peanut m&ms in hand we took our seats and watched Cady Heron take on high school.

I’ve never felt more disappointment than asking my mom to let me sleep 10 more minutes in the white sheets that had engulfed me the past three nights–I ended up sleeping an extra 17 minutes. We tiredly threw our bodies into the odd smelling Uber as the bellhop did the same with our bags. As we drove I tried to soak up the city’s beauty and organized chaos. The lights blurred by and from the front seat, Siri’s monotones voice broke the silence. “You are now approaching ‘I6 West 13-76 JFK Airport’.” Grabbing our spirits off the floor of our Uber, we collected our bags. The routinely woman on the small overhead screen thanked us for choosing American Airlines for “[we] had a lot of choices”. And as the four bell sounds echoed in my ears, flight 2234 was airborne and the city that fed our soul became the annoyingly familiar 1,557 miles away once more.