Call me bridge and tunnel. Whatever. But I’ve visited, and spent quite a bit of time there during the past eight plus years. I’ve stayed out until the sun came up, danced the night away with my friends Downtown, shared stories in small dive bars and even wandered around Midtown following only the walk signs. I have a favorite local Italian restaurant where they treat you like family. I went on a city wide search for the best fried calamari (sadly one of the best places went out of business and is now a Qdoba). I know where to find the best Vietnamese food, margaritas, pumpkin beer and Saturday morning brunch. The Brooklyn Bridge witnessed my last first kiss and Central Park has been the backdrop for many lunch hours.

New Jersey has been my home for 26 years. It’s in my blood. But I’ve spent my whole life looking across the water at New York City. When I was younger, every time my mom drove around my small suburban town I would stare out the window and wait for the peak of a certain hill. If the weather was clear enough, I would get a quick glimpse of the city’s skyline in the distant horizon. New York meant a place to go to fulfill your dreams, a place where anything could happen at any time of the day or night, a place of endless adventure and possibility.

The city can seem so big and daunting, but also so small at times. A few years ago I saw the same old man in Port Authority and on the Upper East Side. I sat across from the same couple on the 6 train on two separate occasions. I even ran into a high school classmate on the street at 1am. Most recently, my childhood babysitter moved in around the corner from my boyfriend.

Riding over that hill in suburban New Jersey as a kid, I could never fathom how much New York, more so Downtown, would come to mean to me, how many memories it would hold and how much it would inspire me.

I can’t wait to share my new adventures, favorite spots and thoughts with the untapped community through my drawings, doodles and photos.