I tucked my hair behind my ears as the wind continued to blow my hair into my face, both left and right, as I stood 70 floors above the streets of New York City. Keeping my hands wrapped in my scarf, safe from the crisp, cold mid-November air, the red and purple lights of the Empire State Building stared back at me as I stood on top of the Rockefeller Center.
As a little girl it was a dream of mine to go to New York City. Was it the hustle and bustle of the city life? The big, tall buildings? The city that never sleeps? I don’t know. But I knew I had to be there, someday.
I didn’t know that someday would be then. As I prepared for my midterm for my Racism and Law class on Oct. 12, I checked my phone and there was the notification about the Media School New York trip in my inbox awaiting my response.
The trip was supposed to happen two years ago, when I was a freshman in the Media Living Learning Center, however, because of COVID-19, it got cancelled. When that happened, I thought my next opportunity to go would have to be a trip I planned on my own.
“Do I say yes?” I debated. At the time, I didn’t know anyone on the list who was going. I knew my uncle lived in the city.
I said yes.
After a 14-hour bus ride, connecting with an old friend, making new acquaintances and having my uncle play the role of an ambitious tour guide, I fell in love with the city within 72 hours.
We arrived at the hotel before our rooms were ready, so I changed my clothes in the hotel lobby bathroom and redid my makeup, using my phone as a mirror. Then I got on the subway to get pizza with the old friend from my dorm floor two years ago.
We sat outside watching the New Yorkers on the sidewalks as we ate at John’s Pizzeria in West Village, processing how we went from Indiana to New York in 14 hours.
“Will I be one of those New Yorkers one day?” I thought to myself.
Later that evening, my uncle showed me Central Park, Rockerfeller Plaza and Bryant Park’s Christmas Market only to end up back at Times Square for the third time that day to watch the Broadway Show “Book of the Mormon.”
About 12 hours later I would be watching a Rockettes show, having seen their practice video on Instagram only a few days before becoming a reality.
And I even got to try a hot dog with ketchup from one of those New York carts for lunch.
That night I would be 70 floors up overlooking Manhattan.
A few weeks before, I was on TikTok and Instagram seeing that view in people’s videos, not knowing the view would be mine only a few weeks later.
Writing this column as I rewatched Friends for the 100th time I saw the building where my uncle took a photo of me. Unfortunately, the Little Owl restaurant is below the apartments, not Central Perk.
My uncle and I ended the night eating burgers at Judy Z’s and reminiscing on the past 48 hours and catching up about life: college, work, dating, everything.
My next and last day would have me standing in the newsroom at the New York Times, eating bagels and wandering around the New York Public Library with a trip buddy I made from breakfast the day before and being in the audience of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” with David Letterman as the special guest.
As the bus pulled onto the road, the lights of the city stared at me as I stared back at it. In 14 hours, I would be back in Indiana.
All because I took the chance and said yes, I will always remember the view from 70 floors up.
Natalie Fitzgibbons (she/her) is a junior studying journalism with a minor in American Studies. She hopes to inspire people with her words and make a positive impact in people’s lives and the world.