Fall festivities in upstate New York + visiting besties in NYC + making peace with my past

It’s hard to put in words how filled my heart feels at the moment…I’m grateful for my family, my friends, my hometown, and these past few days of reconnecting with my roots and healing from my past.

While it was a decently hectic week in terms of travel, I’m very glad I made the trip out to the east coast and actually feel even more rejuvenated than before. One highlight was the fabulous weather (70-80’s all week). Since moving to SF, I’ve really only gone back during terrible winter weather, but seeing New York in the gorgeous fall reminded me just how special it really is.

After my monthly work trip to D.C. in the beginning of the week, I headed north to my hometown, Poughkeepsie, NY. I was beyond excited to see my parents for the first time since Easter – I missed them like crazy!

Mom and I spent a lot of time together. I had three days at home and we sure made the most of it between daily walks, hikes, movie nights, lunch dates, long talks…my mom is a ball of positive energy and the sweetest, most selfless person in the world; I know my family and her friends would say the same thing. Being with her always reminds that there is SO much more to life than the silly things I stress out about every day (seriously, you would laugh if you knew what I worried about). Her comforting presence was just what I needed, especially after a very stressful/emotional few days of work.

One of our favorite activities was going on a mother-daughter hike at Vanderbilt Mansion, a favorite easy hike in the area. Mom and I took our time as we perused the property, enjoyed the diversity of trees, and chatted away.

Having a little too much fun with the camera 😛

We took the path leading straight to the Hudson River. Even though the Hudson River gets a bad rep, I hold it near-and-dear having grown up right along it. It was really special spending time there and enjoying the riverside views.

Another major highlight of the weekend was apple picking at Prospect Hills Orchard, a short drive away from my house. I specifically requested this activity as some of my fondest childhood memories were at this orchard. Our family has been visiting every year for as long as I can remember, so mom gathered a group of church friends and we made it a whole day activity. 🙂

We started off with a tractor ride around the property – so fun!

I’m glad we summoned a group which had some kids and gave us an excuse to do all the fun activities ;). We did face painting, arts and crafts, and squeezed some fresh apple cider.

After the activities, we of course remembered the main event: picking apples. I guess we had to do some work while we were there 😉

The wonderful home visit ended with a buffet dinner with both mom and dad, our family tradition. I’m really happy with the rich conversations I had with my dad as well over the weekend. I love listening to my dad passionately sharing on the work he so loves.

Sunday morning I jumped on the train down to the city to see my two best friends from my NYC days. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to my parents right before, but I’ll be back in less than three months for the holidays which gives us something to look forward to!

From Grand Central I headed straight to Union Square where I met Michelle – we ran towards each other in an excited reunion. As we were walking and catching up, we stumbled upon a little gem called Outro, a hip brunch spot with an outdoor patio and the perfect spot to chill on this gorgeous day.

Michelle and I do a great job at keeping in touch (we leave each other detailed voice memos), so we were already caught up on the latest and greatest of our lives, despite not seeing each other for 9 months. This gave us time to joke around and say whatever random shenanigans came up our minds on topics of work, friends, dating…it was refreshing to actually bounce ideas off each other instead of waiting for our long memos like we were used to. I’m so glad I got to catch Michelle this time – such a fun, light-hearted start to the day.

Afterwards, I headed to Brooklyn to see Christine in the afternoon. We first met at her apartment in Williamsburg, and from the moment she opened the door we were both giddy with energy and excitement to finally reunite.

After dropping off my stuff, we headed outside for an outdoorsy afternoon in Williamsburg. We walked along the waterfront with views of Manhattan, grabbed ice cream, and then plopped a picnic blanket down at Domino Park, a new park built right next to the original Domino Sugar factory, a unique mix of old and new. It felt like all of Brooklyn was out-and-about enjoying the last sunny, warm, vibes of the season.

Christine and I literally talked non-stop for the 5 hours we were together. Our conversations were centered around never-ending life updates and existential ponderings. Christine has made some pretty big life changes recently, and I so admire her courage. Ever since I’ve known her, Christine has always helped me see that there is so much more to life than chasing money and prestige (despite being bred from our hyper-competitive Ivy League/work circles). I have oceans of love for her as we truly understand and appreciate each other’s adventure natures from our core.

As we were walking around, it was crazy to think that I was flying back to SF so soon. It really felt like an ordinary day as we picked up right where we left off (honestly, I think a big part of it was the beautiful weather which brought me some sweet memories of our past). Flashback to when we’d hang out every weekend at techno shows, grabbing smoothies at Thompson Square Park, and wasting time skyping at work…boy did I miss that girl. ❤

And just like that, my wonderful New York weekend came to a close. And now for some reflection…

I never really wrote about this here, but when I moved to SF two years ago, I left NYC with a lot of anger and resentment in my heart. I settled into SF very quickly as I so desperately wanted to start a new life, which I know was the right decision since I truly feel like the west coast is where I belong. Yet for the longest time it hurt to think about the previous part of my life…and every time I flew back home I spent as little time as possible in NYC (I would even ask Michelle to come up to Poughkeepsie to visit me because I didn’t want to step foot in the city) since being there reminded me of my past.

But something in me changed this time around. I’m not sure if I was ready, but I was ready to be ready… if that makes sense. Also for the past two years, I neglected my friendships in NYC simply because of my scars of the place itself, and it wasn’t fair to continue this way any longer. (I feel grateful for my patient friends who have kept up with our long-distance friendships during this time.) And so this time, I deliberately took one day to visit NYC…

From sitting in Union Square soaking in the quiet morning before the chaos, to riding the subway that I didn’t mind so much this time, to passing my old Saturday long-run path from Shoreline Brooklyn to Brighton Beach…I was reminded that I actually did have a lot of happy moments in NYC to be thankful for. I had flashbacks to nonstop laughing fits with Michelle and Christine, my carefree days of living all over Manhattan/Brooklyn/and Queens, and all the mistakes, healing and growing that came from this part of my life…

I realized that my curious, adventurous self of today was born from the seeds planted from NYC. I accepted that my chapter in NYC was, and will always be, a part of me. I was reminded that I am loved by so many. I was finally able to make peace with my past.

I can’t begin to describe how much these past few days meant to me. When the idea was planted in my heart to see my parents during my spiritual healing retreat back in August, I flew across the country and spent this past week with just that intention. What I got out of it was so much more than my heart was prepared for: the healing, the quality time with loved ones, and more…I cannot wait to be back for the holidays. ❤


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