It was a horribly humid August night when I stepped out of baggage claim at JFK and pushed my luggage trolley across the street to the taxi island. The rain began to fall and a cacophony of thunder clapped in the distance, roaring through the clouds. I stood there waiting for our car to appear wondering if I had made a huge mistake.
For my first week in New York, my mom and I stayed at a hotel in my neighborhood. Mostly because I had no mattress but also because having a haven of air conditioned hotel goodness was a welcomed gift. We chose it because it sits on the corner just two blocks south of my apartment and would be convenient for festivities of moving in and assembling Ikea furniture – but I never thought about the long-term implications of that choice.
Now, flash-forward 6 months later.
Nearly every day, I pass The Lucerne. The rooms soar high above anything else in the neighborhood, with the exception of the sky-rise co-op condominiums that seem to have popped up overnight. On a sunny day, it’s copper-red brick shoots upwards and contrasts so stunningly to the crisp blue sky. And as I look up, and the white clouds briskly skip by, as I canter through the crowds on my way home or to Duane Reade or to my favorite coffee shop or to the Subway, I am reminded of the passing time.
Every day I see The Lucerne I am reminded of how scared I was the first day I walked through its doors. I remember asking the employees where we should eat that night and walking 6 blocks to Shake Shack thinking it felt like a “long walk”. I recall sitting on the bed of our 7th floor room later that night, overhearing my mom regale the excitement of our flight to my dad on the phone, feeling the consequences of my decision weighing me down, as if the pressure itself was gluing me to the tacky geometric quilt.
But every day, I walk by it.
I’m still here.
I’m doing it.
The Lucerne was, at first, an anchoring point filled with Rosemary Mint Aveda shampoo and a high power Whirlpool system. It was a safety net, a liminal space, a not-quite-yet zone that somehow offered a comfortable buffer between the life I had abandoned and the new one I felt unprepared to tackle. I’m so grateful for that place now. And every day, when I walk on by, I give a nod to that scared-shitless girl sitting on her bed on the 7th floor and tell her that she is going to be okay.
Cause she is.
And it feels glorious.
Photo credit: L. M. Raitt September 2016