Have you ever made a decision that has ultimately changed your life forever?
For me, that decision was booking a one-way ticket to New York City in May of 2010. In this post, I’m going to let you in on a personal level about why this city holds such a special place in my heart and how revisiting NYC this summer was everything we had hoped for, and more.
Life in Sydney was becoming something I didn’t want it to be. I was unhappy, I wasn’t sure who I was trying to be or where I was trying to go, but I knew it wasn’t great. My mum – being one of the greatest people on this planet – took this opportunity to suggest the idea of heading overseas… to nanny with family friends in Holland and then continue on to do so in NYC, where my oldest brother lived.
This idea immediately caught my attention and with the benefit of a USA passport (thanks, Dad!), moving away made for an easy choice. A lot of people used to tell me the USA passport was like gold but I didn’t really believe it, until we got there and now, after countless visa issues with Jacob, I totally understand. It is gold.
On May 1st, 2010 I flew from Amsterdam to New York and I remember the exact feeling I had in the pit of my stomach as I touched down in JFK. I was quite scared of the unknown but I was ready to take control over my life and find the best version of myself. I knew she was in there, she just had to be found. My brother sent me his address and it sounded like complete gibberish. It was nothing familiar and it made me realise, this is it. This is a new beginning, I’m no longer in my comfort zone.
I’m sure you’re wondering what on earth could possibly have gone wrong? Let’s put it this way, I was feeling lost. I didn’t feel as though I had a purpose in Sydney anymore, there was nothing keeping me there, I had been betrayed, I had lost all my self-confidence and I started becoming someone I hated to be around.
Moving to NYC felt like I had the opportunity to be reborn. To be given a second chance as an adult. No one knew me, no one knew my past or my insecurities, I was able to start fresh and it felt amazing. I was just me and I had a chance to prove to myself that I was worthy of nothing but happiness and I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me otherwise.
For the first 3 months I slept on my brother’s lounge room floor and to this day I have no idea how he dealt with his little sister for so long but I am forever grateful for the support and guidance my brother and his wife gave me. They helped me get on my own two feet without treating me like a child.
Day 1… I knew I had made the right choice.
When I made the decision to move, I knew I wanted to be a nanny. I’ve worked with children almost my whole adult life and watching children grow up is what I love to do most. What I didn’t know is just how much of an impact 2 little red-headed boys would have on me from the moment I met them.
Getting a job in New York wasn’t easy. There’s definitely a high demand for nannies but there are also some outrageously ridiculous positions available. Becoming someone’s slave was out of the question so finding a job that worked for me, took some time. Just as I was about to give up, I went for one last interview and accepted a job just a few weeks later.
I began working with a family in downtown New York. When I started they were just 14 months and 3 years old and when I left, they were 6 and 9. After 5 years consecutive years and 50+ hours a week, I most definitely loved these kids as if they were my own. They gave me an immediate purpose, they needed me and I needed them. They brought joy to me on a daily basis and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them hit their milestones alongside their parents.
I’d never nannied on such a full-time level before and a lot of people asked me if it deterred me from having children myself, but the answer was always ‘no’. In fact, it made me want to have children of my own even more. Why? Because then I get to make the rules ;). It’s one of the hardest aspects of the job, working underneath the parents. At the end of the day, they aren’t your children, it’s not your rules, it’s theirs and it’s your job to respect and follow them 100% (which I totally get!). Nevertheless, every day, I made it my goal to make a difference in their lives.
When we chose to leave NY to begin our adventure, I wasn’t sure when I would ever see them again and it broke my heart, but there was no denying Jacob and I had the travel bug and it was biting hard.
Fast forward 2.5 years, I was thrilled to see their little (or not so little) faces again. Apart from the sheer size growth, it felt as though I never left. We went bowling, I took them to dinner and gladly discovered all of their new hobbies. We played soccer, ate ice cream and genuinely had an absolute ball. My heart is so full of love for these kids and I hope one day they’ll both know how much they meant to me and how happy I was to have been apart of their childhood.
I may have left them again for now, but if the younger one had his way, I’ll hopefully see them in Australia down the track.
Very rarely do you find a born and bred New Yorker, everyone comes from all over and everyone has a story to tell. Making new friends in a big city takes time. It didn’t happen immediately but once we got on our feet, our social group continued to expand and my heart began to grow. The love that I felt from these humans was enormous. I was constantly being encouraged, I was always listened to and I was myself 100% of the time.
Accommodation ain’t cheap in NYC and anyone that’s lived or even visited there would know this. When we used to live in New York, we loved to have visitors. We had the privilege of housing our visiting friends in our small NYC apartment numerous times. It was always so special to see familiar faces from home and have our Aussie friends & family see how our life ran in the big city.
During the 5 weeks we spent revisiting NYC this summer, we never expected the favour to be returned in such generosity. It became evident just how incredible our friends were when they all opened their doors to us. At times we had 3 or 4 sets of keys for all different apartments. They made us feel at home and at times, even gave up their bed! Avoiding 1000’s of dollars for accommodation over 5 weeks gave us the chance to spend that money elsewhere (shopping, food, booze, food, activities, food and more booze). Thank you, thank you and thank you!
My body aches but my heart is absolutely bouncing with love. I think this is the best way to describe how I felt as we left the city. For 5 weeks straight we ate out with our friends at every meal, had after work drinks, took boat cruises, saw comedy & Broadway shows, went to concerts, picnicked in the park, went to the beach, revisited the touristic sights, drank on rooftops, had bottomless brunches, took weekend getaways, attended gym classes, rediscovered old favourite restaurants & uncovered new hidden neighbourhoods. We may be 16,000km (literally!) away but I know the distance won’t change our friendship one bit.
I will say though… it’s time for a detox!
And then there was Jacob…
Everyone always makes a joke that I followed Jacob to NYC. I have defended this joke so many times but now, a part of me is happy to accept it. After all, it did lead us to where we are today. If I didn’t make that leap to the other side of the world, Jacob and I may have always remained best friends and that only.
Location: DUMBO (Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and our first date spot.
For those of you who don’t know Jacob and I on a personal level, here’s a little background… We met each other at high school and therefore essentially grew up together (I’d love to share a photo of 10 years ago, but I’ll spare you). We’ve known each other for almost 2 decades (feeling old!) and from day 1, we clicked immediately and remained the best of friends throughout our high school lives.
We understood each other and we had more things in common than we thought, most notably our love for travel, our travelling shot glass collection from our visited countries, as well as our obsession with Africa (we both strangely had African themed rooms!). A few coincidences don’t you think?
The first night I arrived in NY, Jacob and I smooched? kissed? hooked up? Whatever you want to call it and the rest is history. 7 years later brings us to today. After 70 odd countries together, over 30,000 photos from all around the world and countless experiences, we decided to celebrate our 4 year wedding anniversary in the very city that brought us together in the first place.
We’ve done some pretty unique thrills around the world but this one brought us to an all new level – literally. An open-door helicopter ride over downtown Manhattan. Unreal! The wind was extraordinarily strong, my sandals almost snapped in half but I loved every second of it and I loved it even more with this boof-head by my side.
It’s hard to tell if NYC was the reason we ended up married, we’ll never know, but regardless, it brought us together on the very first day and I’m forever grateful. Everything happens for a reason!
Our New York City Guide Coming Soon
Photo Credit: Timeout
Spending another 5 weeks in this city made us realise, we really have no excuse as to why we haven’t shared our own version of an NYC guide. So, we’ve started compiling our favourite places to eat and top things to do in another post, which we will be posting shortly!
New York City, you changed my life and that my friend, is why you will forever hold a small piece of my heart.
’till next time Big Apple!
Married Days Survived: 919