When It’s Cold Outside

As a palette of gray hues conquered the sky, my phone began to ring. Having touched down in New York less than a week prior, it seemed my initiation into The City would come in the form of a cold front, foreign to my native Australian climate. Family and friends from across the globe warned of the imminent snow storm. Lovingly they inquired into the quality of heating in my new apartment, the robustness of my shoe’s soles and the effectiveness of my coat’s insulation.

With a string of solemn promises to keep myself safe, I assured those who cautioned me, that I had traded in my Sydney sandals for snow boots and vowed to send some snowy snaps, as only a newcomer would.

The streets, serene and the snow, sublime. I peered down from my apartment window and felt as though I should speak in a whisper for it seemed ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ had quietly dozed off beneath the cover of white. Rugged up and well equipped, as I ventured beyond my apartment’s trusted temperature, I found myself astounded, not by the chill in the air but the warmth that ensued.

Moments that are ordinarily shared insignificantly with others, became sacred spaces for cordial exchange. An elevator ride offered murmurs of, “you look like you’re ready for the snow,” or the peek of an empathetic smile beneath a scarf’s edge. A quick trip to the store concluded with the cashier’s greeting to, “stay warm out there,” followed by an audible assortment of thankful expressions to those shoveling the sidewalks.

Conversation quickly traversed from weather to other things. In an encounter at the building’s garbage compactor, I met Chrissy who was nursing a cold and welcomed my wishes for her quick recovery. At the supermarket, the lady serving me explained she bemoaned the cold because fewer people visited the store. She enjoys being busy because she simply loves what she does. Countless conversations turned to inquiries about my life in Australia, as chitchat effortlessly extended a few moments longer than it regularly would.

With extreme weather came an overt commonality that united even perfect strangers in a shared experience. Merely being, meant partaking in a mutual reality, as comrades who, albeit involuntarily, were made to tackle treacherous temperatures together. The temperature’s drop brought about a decrease in the degrees of separation felt between people and broke the ice to allow for connection.

The weather is often berated as the most impersonal topic of conversation, however, I recently learned that therein lies its beauty. When even a commonality as basic as the weather is established between people, a foundation for communication is laid, upon which a palace of human connectivity can be built to extend far beyond the weather.

Well, where do I begin?

As I sat at the airport gate awaiting my departure to New York, I seized the opportunity to pen my first update. With much to say and many to say it to, I took to the magical interweb to broadcast my message. The responses were warm and encouragement plentiful, conjuring up a thought that every mildly coherent 20-something-year-old has when they travel – I should write a blog!

And so here it is, a small space I have carved out for myself on the internet, amidst the cat videos, selfies, and humanity-hope-extinguishing-black-holes, formally known as the ‘comments’ section. With tremendous gratitude for having this opportunity, I look forward to reporting on some of the trip’s gems here. Whilst my past journal keeping history is about as reliable as the subway is clean (hint: not very), I’m going to give this regular blog thing a bash.

As the great Julie Andrews once said, “let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start.” Perhaps I should formally explain that a short two weeks ago, I tearfully waved farewell to my family as I bid the shores of Sydney goodbye, with my sights set on the Big Apple (whilst fully aware that no New Yorkers actually use the term ‘Big Apple,’ I feel as though my accent allows me to get away with it).

The technical lowdown is as follows:

  • I am on a J-1 Visa, which is a cultural exchange visa for recent university graduates that enables you to work and travel in the US.
  • In case you missed it, I will be based in a small town, you’ve probably heard of it – New York.

Whilst my first few days have been largely marvelous, I do of course fear the inevitable moments that will metaphorically feel as though I am being hit by a yellow cab, smacked in the face with a bagel or trampled by a queue of Hamilton ticket winners. I am, however, excited for the road ahead and whilst I personally cannot make any promises, I know New York City can, which is why I am excited to share with you, a piece of The Big City, through some of my small ideas.

Stay posted and keep reading.

Sending much love,

Dani