A Tourist in My Own City

  This city is my favorite playground. It's an ever changing island of wonder. No matter how many times I visit my favorite sites, they never cease to inspire me.

For the past couple of days I've had a dear friend from Colombia (the country, not the university) visiting me with his girlfriend. Yesterday I took them for the Unofficial Nikbear Tour of Lower Manhattan. Highlights included staples such as Battery Park City, the Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown, Little Italy, SoHo, and Washington Square Park. These are some of my favorite parts of the city and I absolutely adore showing them off to tourists. It's nice to be able to show foreigners a part of your world through your eyes.

Juan and Tibby had also requested that we make a trip to the 9/11 Memorial. I was happy to oblige them as I hadn't been down to the memorial yet either. We met up with one of my oldest friends, Johnny, who happens to work at the memorial. Johnny gave us a fantastic private tour around the site, explaining the stories behind every detail. (Thanks again for showing us around on your day off!)

Quiet reflection at one of the pools

The memorial itself is absolutely breathtaking. Two massive inset pools with cascading waterfalls are surrounded by trees and solemn visitors. It's a beautiful little sanctuary nestled in the heart of the financial district, and I can't wait for all the construction to be done.

One of the most heartwarming stories at the memorial is the tale of the Survivor Tree. The Survivor Tree is a callery pear tree that was found under all the rubble at the site weeks after the attacks. It was still alive, although just barely, and was removed from the facility to be replanted and nursed back to health. It's life was once again threatened during Hurricane Irene, but the little-tree-that-could pulled through and now stands strong and healthy at the memorial as a symbol of hope and rebirth. I think I'm in love this freaking tree.

Construction continues inside and around the memorial with the reconstruction of the WTC buildings and the completion of the 9/11 museum. The Freedom Tower, of One World Trade Center, stands tall and mighty as an excellent backdrop for the memorial.

It's just another fantastic symbol of this city's ability to overcome tragedy and rebuild itself as a stronger, better unit.

1 WTC nearing completion

It was a truly incredible experience to visit the memorial and pay my respects. I left the memorial feeling relieved, renewed, and ready to take on the world. To be living in a city that has not only survived through tough times, but has actually thrived, and built itself up and around the toughest obstacles, and has stood the test of time over and over again, and has incorporated so much of the world, and done it all SO WELL.... it's the most inspiring thing I've ever done in my entire life. I am truly motivated by New York City and I don't think that will ever change.

This city is always growing, learning, expanding, teaching, and changing. It's a great role model for the way I want to live my life.

Go figure, I just want to BE New York City - I bet you all saw that one coming.

I am head over heels in love with this place and I don't think I'll ever find another love like this.

Eternally grateful for the opportunity to be here, xx Nikbear