And then a ballerina emerges from the crowd. Tattered shoes. Blistered feet. The Big City lifts her from the waist and she’s up, up, up. Kissing the Sky.

I have high hopes of one day being a car wreck of a romantic.

Of one day lending my heart out, as if it were a well-read library book, to someone who would have no choice but to rip the return date from the inner bindings because although he does not understand the way he feels, he cannot go a day without feeling this way. But before I could ever allow this Great Love to latch onto my limbs, I had to give myself to a First Love that has made its way into nearly every paragraph of every diary entry I have penned since the age of ten. 

While some young girls drew hearts around boys named Justin and stitched their first name to the last name of the boy beside them in math class, I scripted Love Letters to Concrete. Stenciled Hearts Around Skyscrapers. Stitched my own name into the Skyline of a City I prayed would learn my name and find the sound of it just too sweet to ever not repeat.

New York City. I will always believe that although the Big City may seem chaotic & busy & bursting with bustling adjectives, if you take the time to step away from it you will realize it is really One Big Dance. Some people wear tap shoes while others wrap silk ribbons around their ankles. And some even do the most remarkable of rain dances on bare calloused feet. Look closer. You’ll find the waltzing on Wall Street. Pirouettes Through Coffee Shops. And, if you are careful with your observations, you will find in every moment another ballerina finding the courage to run and leap into the arms of the Big City. Catching her at her waist and lifting her up to kiss the sky.

New York City. I’d tell any dreamer or realist alike to make some time to dance with her. I’d tell any soul, old or young, to bow & curtsie with the City’s Avenues and Bright Lights.

A friend of mine, who I swear might count the freckles on my arms when I am not looking, asked me today, “What will you write about now that you are no longer in New York City?” A very good question. A question I have asked myself several times in the past few days as the N scurried away from the Y and grew farther from the C. How a girl finds words after concrete. After subways. After the insomniac city.

But, despite geography, I still believe that this Big City will find her footing in every one of my sentences. This Concrete Jungle Will Still Be Planted Deep Within the Jungles of the Punctuation Before Me. Because New York City taught me a great lesson: that life is not a matter of being picky with footwear but of looking down at the shoes you were given and making the decision to dance no matter what. And isn’t that the reason we write to begin with? Or Create? Or Live? Because we never understood the life we were given but it seemed worth it to dance anyway. To Shuffle. To Trot. To Turn. To Leap. Even with blistered feet. Or worn soles.

I don’t need a point on a map to know there are some things we were never meant to understand, like a mysterious city that echoes your name like tap shoes taking to a wooden floor. That we never understand the things we see. The things we feel. The places we go. The hands we hold. But we still must see, feel, go, and hold. Regardless.

The Big City will teach you just this if you allow it to. That life is the water-color paints meeting paper. Life is the chocolate melting out in the sun. Life is the mud on the bottom of your feet after you have danced in the rain. Life is the watermelon dripping on your white shirt. Life is the remains of peppermint that you carried home on your lips the night you learned his were prone to chapping easily. Life is a tangle of Christmas lights, tethered and confusing but still a glowing swarm of elegance.

Life is exactly what New York City seems like from a first glance. Crazy. Intense. Magical. Wild. Unreal. Big. Loud.

And then a ballerina emerges from the crowd. Tattered shoes. Blistered feet. The Big City lifts her from the waist and she’s up, up, up. Kissing the Sky.

A Letter to the Big City: I am finally ready to change your name to “home.”

To the Big City:

I always imagined that the first time I gave my heart up without an expectation to get it back it would be to a boy. I pictured love letters, firsts of every kind and ultimately no need for a promise that I might get it back in one piece. Never to you though, I never thought that you would be the one to start my heart beating to a different rhythm. A Different Song.

I remember when we first met, how it happened nearly a thousand times. Every time I stepped off the train onto the platform of Grand Central Station there was tinge of hope that you would allow me to stay, that my off peak ride home would be nonexistent. I prayed you might let me dance along your sidewalks, let my heart drift away with the aromas of the city. I Prayed You Would Sweep Me Up With The Crowds And Somehow Make Yourself Home To Me.

The funny thing is how I fought with you for a while. It was a matrimony that I longed for, between you, the Great Manhattan, and me, the Little Dreamer. Like a big brother, too cool for a younger sibling, you never let me hang around for long, you always forced me back to a town and a place too small for the dreams in my head.

“I can fit them in your city,” I would beg and plead. You shook your head and gave me no resolution or reason. You left me to pluck my own stars out the sky, to give up on the light that I always swore would be the end of my tunnel.

And I was dreamless for a while. Dreamless to a point where I said beneath my breath, “Perhaps, perhaps, I should have never dreamt this dream at all.” I was very silly to plant you in my mind before I passed into a slumber every single night. Forget the skyline, forget the concrete mixed with the crafts of a million other passerbys. Forget the beautiful people. Forget that you ever thought you had a place in this Big City.

I cannot say what happened when I walked away, when I left you with my heart and you never whispered back that you would take good care of it.

But you did.

I am still learning Big City… I am still learning about reasons and truth, about times and places. I am learning to pick back up the pieces, to put back on the cloak of a dreamer.

Like a love lost, a love that knows my name, my heart, how I fill my spaces and what spaces still need to be filled, you found me again. You dared to ask me to pick up where we left off; you said you still kept my heart, you were letting it run wherever it pleased but that I might want to run with it.

Thank you for the invitation, here is my RSVP. I needed to learn on my own that if I don’t follow my heart than I will never reach a point of contentment, a point where my full capacity is met, a point where I allow my dreams to breath and live. Maybe I needed to do my growing up in another city, in another place with different people, before you beckoned me to come shimmer in the skyline.

But you called my name, and I will be there… You Called. I’m Coming.

Quite possibly your biggest dreamer,

Hannah Katy

At the end of August I will be relocating to The Bronx, New York and will be serving for a year as the liaison to the Augustinians at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan. This is the beginning to a new chapter…