My First Time in New York City

I know what you’re thinking.

This girl accepted her offer to New York University without having been to New York City before?

I’ve visited plenty of big cities, including Chicago, Detroit, and Washington D.C. But, technically, I’d never been to the Big Apple when I accepted NYU’s offer.

My first opportunity to visit the city came when NYU announced Weekend on the Square – a sort of welcome to the coming freshmen class.

Between our school and work schedules, my brother, mother, and father were able to come along for the weekend road trip. My sister had to stay home for a theatre engagement.

Our plan was to stay in a Jersey City hotel Friday night, spend Saturday in Manhattan, and drive through the night to make it home by Sunday morning.

Not dangerous at all.

Weekend on the Square was a misnomer. It was really a one day deal. You get there at nine o’clock in the morning, take a couple tours, sit through a couple orientations, and boom. You’re done.

So, naturally, we planned on touring as much of New York City as we could in the remainder of that single day, including Times Square, Chinatown, the 9/11 Memorial, and Union Square. This would all have to squeeze into six short hours.

It was the Thursday before we were set to leave when I told my best friend, Dawn, that she was coming along. Dawn, a broadway-lover, had never been to Manhattan before.

And that’s how she, my younger brother, my mother, my father, and I ended up in a minivan on our way to New York City, squished between stuffed animals, suitcases, tissues, and cough medicine.

Why the tissues and medicine?

Well, I’d woken up on the morning of perhaps the most exciting trip of my life feeling like death.

About seven days later, I’d go to the ER and get diagnosed with bronchitis. I was coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and by the time we stopped for lunch on Friday afternoon, I was attempting to communicate with my family via sign language that Dawn was teaching me as we drove along.

I was miserable. The worst part about having bronchitis is that, if you do manage to fall asleep, you’ll be even more miserable when you wake up. Your throat is dry, you can hardly breathe, and all you want to do is go back to sleep.

I took a lot of medicine, ate a lot of crackers, and played a lot of 2048 (I still can’t beat that stupid game).

Regardless, we kept pushing along.

I forced myself to perk up when we hit Jersey City.

We checked into our hotel (the Hyatt on the Hudson) and decided to slink around for some pizza. One of the valets at the hotel pointed us toward Carmine’s, an impressive pizzeria that was only half a mile away.

We must have wandered for an hour until we finally found the restaurant on a little corner in the middle of a sketchy Jersey City neighborhood. T

The food, I’ll admit, was completely worth it. And I was severely dehydrated.

We weren’t willing to walk back to the hotel, so the cashier called us a cab. What actually showed up was definitely not a taxicab. It was a minivan, driven by a guy on his cell phone.

We were pretty freaked out. We thought it was a mistake until the cashier went, “Hey, that’s your cab out there.”

After practically forcing my mother into the van, we sat awkwardly as the driver made his way through Jersey City, each of us half expecting the car to pull off into some dark side-street where we’d all get killed.

Fortunately, unmarked cabs are evidently a normal thing in the city. They’re known as Ubers or Lyfts. We were dropped off at our hotel without a problem.

The next day, we headed into Manhattan. I was still sick, and it was getting worse.

How do I describe my first glimpse of the Manhattan skyline? I’ll settle for awk-striking. I think that’s the way everyone feels.

But once you’re there, when you’re inside, it’s nowhere near as daunting as it seems. You’re part of it. That huge, huge thing that only seems small on a postcard. And you’re part of it.

About an hour later, we found ourselves in a gymnasium, looking at the other incoming freshmen and their parents.

I spent the morning learning more about my school, and the afternoon exploring Manhattan.

We visited the 9/11 Memorial, which may actually have more security than an airport. We walked through Chinatown. Finally, we started toward what Dawn and I considered the most exciting part of the trip.

Times Square.

It was so much smaller than I thought it would be. You see this grand thing on television but, in real life, you don’t feel so small in comparison.

It was crowded to the point where large groups had to set a gathering point. The shortest wait for a popular restaurant was close to three hours. And merchants were everywhere.

We escaped to the less crowded side-streets that made up Broadway. Dawn almost died when she heard Ramin Karimloo singing through the lobby of the theatre featuring Les Miserables.

That was pretty much where our night ended. We took the subway back to our car, and the drive home began.

And that was my first time.

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My Aha Moment

On Valentine’s Day, I received the most exciting news of my life. I’d been accepted to New York University on a $41,000 yearly merit scholarship.

NYU is the sixth best school for journalism in the country. It ranks fourth on the Huffington Post’s list of dream schools. It has a current acceptance rate of roughly 35 percent.

It’s also the second most expensive school in the United States.

It’s more costly than any Ivy League school and ranks only below Sarah Lawrence, another New York City college.

This makes NYU little more than a dream school for most applicants.

When I received my letter from NYU, I’d been declined admission at Columbia University and waitlisted at the University of Chicago. Later, I was rejected from the University of Michigan, a school I’d always considered one of my safe choices as a Michigan native who only lives forty-five minutes away from campus.

In short, my spirits were running pretty low.

As I read the letter, tears began streaming down my cheeks. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe. Not only was I accepted, but I had a scholarship offer that actually made it possible to go.

I’ve spent the last five months wondering how this happened to me. Everything that made me worry I’d never fit in at a prestigious university made me feel more accepted in New York City’s Greenwich Village, the central base of NYU.

I’m creating this blog for family and friends (and anyone else who wants to come along for the ride). I’ll be posting pictures, updates, and experiences over the next four years. We can go through this journey together.

Leaving Howell, Michigan is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But New York City? It can’t get more exciting than that.

Without further ado, here were go.

Welcome to Misadventures in the Big Apple.

Remembering Trevor Inman

“Tell me about Trevor.”

“Weird.”

That was the word that came from ten-year-old Emily Inman.

A giggle was shared between Emily and her mother, Nicole. The two sat together in Crepe Studio, each of them drinking bubble tea.

“He was funny and he was smart,” Nicole added. “He loved to dance. He would come running into my room dancing and singing. But, when my older son got married, neither he or Jordan would dance at the reception.”

Jordan Inman, 18, is Trevor’s twin brother.

“He was a good kid,” Nicole said of her son. “He ran track and he had just bought a bicycle. He and Jaclyn were planning on going to Eastern, both of them for nursing.”

Jaclyn Kucera, 18, is Trevor’s girlfriend of almost four years.

“He liked ramen noodles,” Emily said. She turned to her mother. “Tell her the ramen noodle story.”

“He was always, like, spilling things,” Nicole said. “He was messing around in the kitchen one day and ramen noodles flew out all over the floor. And he looks at Jordan and, of course, Jordan was already filming him.”

Many stories about Trevor include Jordan. The two graduated from Howell High School at the same time. They had the same circle of friends. They even shared a bedroom.

“I always knew when they were fighting because they could be in the bedroom and you could hear them talking and then, all of a sudden, it would be silent,” Nicole said. “And that’s when you knew.”

Both girls laughed at this.

“Everybody loved him.,” Nicole said. “He was just the kid that always smiled.”

At 8 p.m. on June 6, 2014, the time in Howell, Michigan stopped.

Just six days after his graduation from Howell High School, Trevor Inman died from injuries suffered in a car accident.

Students read the local newspaper in horror, waiting with baited breath for the updates. The student body was in a state of shock, especially the recent graduates of Trevor’s class.

Few slept that night as frantic messages were passed from teacher to student, from friend to friend, from neighbors to family. Everyone wanted to know what happened. Many of them wanted to hear that it wasn’t true.

“Trevor was a goofball,” Jaclyn said. “He had such a sense of humor and loved making other people happy. He was the nicest person I have ever met. He was very loving and would do anything for the people he cared about. He always had a smile on his face.”

The couple started their relationship during the first few weeks of their freshman year.

“On the first day of school, he sat in front of me,” she said. “He always asked to use my pencils, and of course I was going to let the cute boy in front of me borrow one. We had that movie relationship that everyone wishes they had. Trevor was honestly the perfect boyfriend, and he did everything for me.”

She opened up about the night of the accident. She and Trevor were at a gas station on the corner of Latson Road and M59 in Howell, Michigan. They had just returned from a date night. The two had driven separate cars.

“The plan was for us to have a movie night at my house,” she said. “We said we loved each other and kissed goodbye. As I got in my car, Trevor yelled to me to hurry up and not dilly-dally and take all day. We both laughed and he pulled away. That was the last time I heard my boyfriend talk and heard him laugh.”

And then, the unthinkable happened.

“As I started to back up, I saw Trevor pull out of the parking lot and get hit by the truck. He wasn’t looking down, he just didn’t see the truck coming. When I finally got over to Trevor in his car, I knew things weren’t good.”

Jaclyn and Nicole are currently waiting for answers. Why did the accident happen?

“They still haven’t finished the investigation,” Nicole says. “He wasn’t texting, he wasn’t drinking. He just didn’t see the guy. They don’t know whether or not speed was a factor.”

Trevor loved the Detroit Red Wings. He was a fan of the University of Michigan. He wanted to meet Denard Robinson. He had dreams and ambitions. He was just a kid.

“He accomplished everything he put his mind to,” Jaclyn said. “And it had to be perfect. He was very smart. He was such a good kid. He never got into trouble. He was an amazing runner and he loved the Tour de France.

“If I could talk to Trevor one last time, I would just want to tell him how much I love him. I would want to thank him for everything he did for me and for allowing me to fall in love and enjoy high school with him. He made me the happiest girl in the world and he showed me how good life can be – and I am going to make him proud.”