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Reminiscing my childhood: An Open Letter to New York

old photograph of a woman in new york city circa 2006

Hey New York,

I was 12 when we first met.

And I haven’t stopped thinking about you since.

Before you were a cliché — wait, were you always one?


I fell in love with the sights of Times Square. You know, the one with the giant monument of cup noodle soup. I’ll never understand how you could worship it as much as you do.

Quite funny too, seeing as it rained that day and all I could think about was: ‘God, New York sucks.’

But then when the drops stopped, I was confronted with Lady Liberty right in front of me. Man, was she a terrible replica of the actual Lady.

I remember strutting through the streets and into the giant Apple store. Let me remind you: I had no idea what it was then or how it would be today. Jeez.

I still remember taking a photo inside with my white baseball cap that said Princess Pooch. I still keep that picture with me when I want to laugh about my thick, unruly hair trying to cover a man scowling at me from behind.

Then, as my parents thought it would be great to walk 26 blocks to our dinner reservations, I was intrigued with seeing a man who sold hot dogs, halfway through. Maybe my grumbling stomach had something to do with it too.

He was Mexican, that much I can remember. With a long, black beard against his pale skin. He wore a red jacket and served me a large chilli cheese dog despite only paying for the smallest one.

He smiled, casually telling my Father and I that we deserved to have the best hot dogs during our first time in New York City.

My mom snapped a photo then.

I still have it in the little box she likes to label The Big USA Trip. He worked at Sabrett, if you must know, wearing a red jacket to protect him from the cold while he laughed as loud as the yellow taxis honking through your streets.

You’re quite noisy, do you know that?

Hey New York,

Did you know I learned to love art because of you? I explored one of your small galleries at one of the hole in the walls within your city’s confines. There was a lot of still art, paintings, and true to life ones that I couldn’t help but love, unashamed.

Oh, and I still haven’t forgotten that one time I got lost in your Public Library, with your books hearing my every step. My mother thought it was the beginning of my fascination to all things literature. But truth is, I just wanted to sleep the jet lag away.

I wanted to see Radio City and all the Broadway Shows. I wanted to see people kissing in the streets and autumn leaves falling from the ground. Is that what life is really like over there?

None of those pests I saw on the subways, or the expensive bottle of water people tend to sell?

I was intrigued by your jazz clubs even when, at 12, I had no idea what good music was like. I kid you not.

Even when rooftop bars didn’t sound appealing to me then, I jumped for joy when my father’s friend wanted to take us to one for our first night in exploring the city.

But instead of those, we ate pizza at one of your local joints all the way back to Brooklyn. Well, can’t really complain here. It’s still one of the best pizza I’ve ever had. I can’t seem to remember its name, unfortunately.

And no, it wasn’t yellow cab.

Hey New York,

Thanks for introducing me to the Rockefeller Centre where I swore by my parents’ $25 deposit fee, that I’d learn how to ice skate before leaving you.

Thanks for introducing me to Central Park where you gave me the best view of your skyscrapers. Oh, and tons of noisy kids pulling my hair — wondering, oh, wondering whether I was American.

But hey, give me a break. I was 12 and didn’t know how to speak my own native tongue.

Thanks for introducing me to the coolest Toys R Us that’s hidden underground Times Square, by the way. I’ve always wondered how you made my imagination go wild with the winding, dark staircase that leads to one of the biggest ferris wheels I’ve ever seen.

Thanks for teaching me that grown ups also know how to curse in front of their kids. For when times are rough and you’re running to the end of the street because the counter’s ticking 3…2…1… ‘Fuck! Kiara, run faster!

Hey New York,

Thanks for the rain. Thanks for teaching me how to drag my feet against the water currents in your city as we walked for blocks in search for my Father’s friend’s car which got towed and was met by a police officer in your 32nd precinct.

Wow. That was a mouthful.

But I waited ten years to tell you that.

So there you go.

Hey New York,

You made me live a life I didn’t know could exist.

I struggled to come back home after meeting you.

And to this day, despite the nagging sense of doubt when it comes to visiting you, I know I’ll come back and see you again soon.

Maybe not as soon as I want.

But definitely soon.


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  • I love this letter! It really brings back memories for me!

  • This is beautifully written, Kiara! Nice work!

  • I love it! It touches on ALL the feels I get when I go visit New York. I think I’ve passed my phase of wanting to live there, but I do love visiting it. So vibrant!

  • I love new york. when I went there, the few times that I did (and my sister goes to school there now so I’m sure we’ll go back) everything felt like such an adventure. From taking trains to just walking down to the nearest subway, it feels special. and it really is the city that never sleeps. I remember getting lost looking for our motel in the middle of the night, and it was just as amazing as it was in the day time, if not more so.

    • That sounds amazing! Haha! I’ve yet to experience that anywhere else except NYC! Thanks for the comment!

  • i lived there for a very brief period of time and every time i visit, i do not want to leave.

  • This is really cool. I think it is pretty fun to write a letter to a place

  • This is wonderful! I might have to copy your idea and use it to write a letter to Chicago, the city I miss so dearly! Thank you for this wonderful inspiration!

    • You definitely should! I’ve always wanted to go to Chicago 😮 Thank you!

  • This is so beautiful and poetic! I love it!

  • I’ve never been to New York, but I love the prose you picked for this post. It was really creative and interesting to read, like creative non-fiction poetry (if that’s not a thing, you should make it one).

    • Thanks Karlie! It makes me so happy you said that!

  • Aw what great memories! I haven’t been to NYC as an adult yet but this makes me want to go back asap!

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