Burly in Brooklyn, I met my friend for a writing session. I had been in New York for a month and finally no longer needed to spend most of my day applying to jobs. At the time neither of us lived near Burly, but it was equidistant between us. I had come from a coffee date and the date wanted to tag along (this was only the second time I'd met this guy). So the three of us sat at Burly, sipping our drinks and writing away: a screenplay, a short story and stand up between us. My friend and I exchanged smirks across the table intermittently. After he left, we stopped typing and discussed him and our writing in detail. I never saw him again after we later broke up. I still see my friend almost every week.
I moved to Bed-Stuy (or deeper in Bed-Stuy) by the time winter arrived. Despite an underwhelmingly mild winter, New York was hit with one weekend of vicious snow. One of my roommates and I wandered around the apartment in our pajamas, thankful the snow and limited subway service gave us an excuse to avoid people. After getting a little stir crazy, we took out our boots and trudged through the snow up Throop to Burly and read our books over our warm drinks. I was deep into Wild Swans at the time. We fell into a discussion of our relatives' upbringing in different countries and the resilience of the women in our families. We ended the slow day by watching Mad Max in our basement, which seemed fitting.
A few months later as winter turned to spring, I met my closest friend at Burly. We had a thing for meeting at coffee shops when we had something pressing on our minds… which meant we met at coffee shops a lot. We recounted all our racing thoughts, shrugging when we couldn’t find the right words. She hadn’t slept well in a while so we walked back to my apartment where she passed out on my couch with the cat. She ended up leaving for grad school a few months later but certain places in New York still remind me of her.
I’ve been to Burly several other times; it's just a coffee shop in Bed-Stuy with good wifi, friendly baristas and delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies.
It has been a year since I moved to New York, and now I have a little corner of this city to call my own.
Illustration by my sister, Lauren Monaco.
In a jetlagged haze, my friend and I wandered to the apartment in Neiully-sur-Seine and arrived at the door drenched in sweat with two overstuffed bags. The young boy and his little brother ushered us in. They were on school break and were lazing around in their pajamas. The older brother was a ball of energy, speaking quickly in accented English. He put us at ease, assuring us that we shouldn’t worry about storing our massive bags in the small tasteful Parisian apartment. He exclaimed that we must be hungry and started boiling water for pasta. My dad later learned from his father that this was his first time cooking. I should have guessed since pasta and sauce ended up all over the tiled floor in his frenzy.
We sat in the kitchen over our overflowing bowls of pasta. The windows were wide open leading to a balcony crammed with juice bottles. I sat there in awe, overwhelmed by being in a foreign country for the first time without my parents. He told us of his school trip to the US and how much he loved New York. He asked us if we watched The Big Bang Theory (we didn’t), and they insisted we watch it with them because we were American. We watched two episodes after the meal. While the brothers laughed energetically, my friend and I tried to figure out how someone could be so kind to two sweaty foreign strangers.
When the older brother was about to start the third episode, we told him we had to leave for the train. He understood and walked us to the station, helped us buy tickets, and waited until we had passed through the turnstiles, waving goodbye with a huge smile.
He was in school when we returned for our bags, so we never saw him again. This was our first Parisian crush. And who says the French aren’t warm and welcoming.
Illustration by my sister, Lauren Monaco.
I moved into a great apartment in Brooklyn (with a laundry machine and stairs!!) and survived winter by reading a lot. I also learned that if a subway car is empty, it is empty for a reason. Can I call myself a New Yorker now?
1st row: curry puffs with Lauren // blizzard in Bed-Stuy // Dim Sum in Chinatown
2nd row: Black Gold Records in Carroll Gardens // the Guggenheim Museum // a warm day in Chelsea
3rd row: winter escape to Dallas // my roommate's cat, Freddy // The Greene Grape in Fort Greene