You all are probably expecting me to start out with some explanation as to why I haven’t written in so long. (And by “you all,” I mean my mom and the other three people out there who haven’t given up on poor ol’ Jeez-o-petes.) I’m not going to. I’m not going to go into the crazy that’s been going on, about how a ton of people I’ve worked with and truly like and respect were laid off and my employment future is a little uncertain, and I’m not going to talk all about how my dad was in the hospital but was finally released today.

No, I’m just going to dive straight into the fact that I might kind of love New York.

Yes, I know, I know, way to be original. I KNOW. But hear me out.

The first time I went to NYC, it was basically Big and Cool and Scary. I was with Jared, who’d been there as a child but not as an adult, and we really didn’t go anywhere without either a guide or very specific instructions. I think we used the subway once. I found it to be an amazing city, but I had a hard time understanding the concept of living there.

After going there a couple of times last summer, I started to get it a little more. It still absolutely wasn’t for me, but I got outside of Midtown and rode the subway by myself and visited more friends who really lived the NYC lifestyle. It wasn’t so scary anymore.

This was a whole different trip. For starters, I was there for a week (Jared was working a trade show, so I went to a few meetings and lunches and otherwise did my normal work thing, except that instead of sitting in my office without pants on, I wore a dress and boots and makeup and worked from a Starbucks in Soho. I have never seen a busier bathroom than the one there, let me tell you.) I had some amazing experiences — going to the top of the Empire State Building, attending a Knicks game in a suite courtesy of Jared’s work, attending and photographing a charity event on behalf of Paw Nation (not something I generally get to do in Gainesville), and eating what might have been the World’s Best Lunch with Metalia.

No, seriously, I might not have great pictures from the fancy basketball game, or any actual pictures of myself with friends I visited, but food? You know it!

avocado toast

Avocado toast with lemon-infused olive oil

crispy artichokes

Crispy artichokes with magical dipping sauce

chopped salad

Chopped salad with fried goat cheese

I think the restaurant name was Bria. It’s in Soho, on the corner of … Broadway and Prince? Spring? I don’t remember. But if you can tell me what all is in this salad and help me make it at home, I will give you $100. No joke.

Aside from amazing food (had one of the best meals of my life with Jared at Tapeo 29 as a pre-anniversary — 7 years and I haven’t scared him off yet! — fancy dinner date), some of the most memorable moments came from just, like, being there. Sunday, I had nowhere to be, nobody to see, and nothing I really, really needed to do. So I walked. I walked from our hotel (with the best bathroom EVER) on the Lower East Side, walking up to Tompkins Square Park, over to Greenwich Village and to Union Square. I hiked around Gramercy Park and up past the Empire State Building and the New York Public Library, and continued on up to Central Park, where I moseyed around and listened to music and offered to take pictures of couples and families who would otherwise have a ton of pictures, but not so many including everyone.

And I took pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. The trees were just starting to try to bloom, and I found myself a little bit obsessed with the sight of those tiny buds set against an old building or looming NYC skyline. So, a few of my favorites from the day:

I was also a little obsessed with all the beautiful, ornate churches set in between apartments and shops.

Central Park with a backdrop of Manhattan

More Central Park

Shut up, I really, really like Central Park.

Umm, I think this might also be Central Park ...

Yes, it's also Central Park.The Brooklyn Bridge. Nope, just kidding. CENTRAL PARK omg I'm the most boring photographer EVERRRR.

Probably my favorite photo of the day, and I don't even know exactly how I did it. This was in front of a little church on 51st Street and I swear, the light all around me was completely pink.

Basically, it took me seeing the majority of the city on foot (on a different day I ran through Chinatown, down to the Brooklyn Bridge) to really realize what it has to offer. It’s easy to get caught up in the honking taxis and over the top hipsters and the swanky store windows and wonder how it’s all real, but somehow, when you see how it changes from block to block and hour to hour, it hits you. And now I get it. Now, I love New York.