Mid-morning melodies of the city


After waiting for three years—although it felt like three thousand—I finally got to visit the place of my dreams. 

New York City.

It was so much more than I ever imagined it would be. There were so many people in the city, so much life, and so many stories waiting to be told. In five days, I lived more than I have my entire life back home. 

On Sunday morning, the day after my family and I arrived in New York, we rented bikes and rode through Central Park. I’ve always enjoyed riding bikes, but I’ve never adored it as much as I did that morning. It was everything that Central Park in the fall should be.

The air was just on the edge of warm, but a slight breeze made me grateful for the jacket my mom had forced me to wear that morning. Multicolored leaves showered around me and were crushed moments later under the wheels of my bike. There wasn’t a car in sight. Instead, horse-drawn carriages—real horses—were taking people on early morning rides through the park. The whole atmosphere made me wonder if it really was the year 2022 or, if, somewhere along the way, I had been transported back to the early twentieth century.

Around mid-morning, my family and I stopped by the side of a small lake to take a break. 

I sat on a bench and experienced the most serene and beautiful moment of my life. It was A Sunday On La Grande Jatte reincarnated into a twenty-first-century Central Park. Everything about it was perfect. I don’t believe in fate—destiny or soulmates or whatever you want to call it—but at that moment, I truly felt like a part of my soul was meant to exist in New York City. 

I could see their heads thrown back in laughter and hear the cadence of their voices emanating from far across the water, blissfully loud and carefree.

There have been very few times in my life when I feel completely at home. Early mornings at the gym, late nights with my friends, and now this very mundane moment of my life: sitting on a park bench seven thousand miles away from my house. 

Far on the other side of the lake, a lush lawn spilled out of the city skyline. Families, couples, and friends lay idly across the grassy field, basking in the mid-morning sun. From where I was sitting, I remember just being able to make out the image of a teenage girl directly across the lake from me. She was draped over a red and white checkered blanket holding a book in one hand and a coffee in the other. 

While I love Michigan, at that moment, I would have done anything to trade my life for hers. To be the one with my back to the sun and my face to the New York City skyline. To be able to sit in the very same spot every Sunday morning. To be able to take that perfect moment for granted.

The girl was far from the only person catching my attention, though. 

There were four people in one of the many canoes on the river. Two of them clumsily row while the others sit, practically on top of each other, in the back. I could see their heads thrown back in laughter and hear the cadence of their voices emanating from far across the water, blissfully loud and carefree. Maybe they were students taking a weekend off from studying. Perhaps they’ve spent their whole lives in the city, or maybe they were falling in love with it at that very moment. Just like I was. 

A duet of musicians had been playing under a gazebo to my left. One was playing the cello and the other a piano. I didn’t notice the music at first. Its murmuring melodies blended perfectly with the rest of the scene spread before me. I only recognized the music when the piano played the opening notes of “The Swan”: The Carnival of Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns. I know the piece by heart from hours spent studying to classical orchestra playlists. The familiarity of every note and crescendo played by the cello makes me feel increasingly relaxed and at home. 

The musicians’ version was not as mathematical or perfect as the Yo-Yo Ma, Katheryn Scott version that I am accustomed to. But, it was nevertheless the embodiment of everything art is supposed to be. I could tell by the musicians’ faces that they would have been playing in the park whether cash was being thrown into the cello case at their feet or not. 

I have never been sure of anything in my life. I have never known what to say when someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up. I have always felt lost when it comes to the question of who I want to be. The only real reason I’m planning on going to college is that I don’t know what else I would do. But for some reason, at that moment in Central Park, I felt more grounded. I felt like I could figure out who I am supposed to be. I don’t know if that means that I will live in that city someday, but I hope it does.

I hope that I find myself in New York City. I hope I will spend my Sunday afternoons watching canoes row by while I lay on a red checkered blanket. I hope that I can find my purpose here. I hope that I finally found something that matters enough for me to change my life for it.