The only season I haven’t experienced in NYC has arrived as I am entering the fourth quarter of my first year here. Spring marks a new beginning for me – a rebirth of the thrill that died during winter and a fresh wave of air for my spirit.

Last summer was such a frenzied blur that I don’t think my brain fully realized that we were in a new place. I was in shock like someone dipped headfirst into a freezing lake, and just trying to get through every day. I was emotionally uneasy until September, which brought my thirtieth birthday, a new job, and the first time I’d ever experienced a real autumn and the joy of going to a workplace I love. And as the days grew shorter and colder, I put away my favorite hoodies for the black wool coat I bought three years ago in Oklahoma but never needed to wear until now. Trudging through filthy slush and whipping wind has certainly not been the most pleasant part of my journey, but NYC has taught me to find comfort in every undesirable situation. Yes, I hate snow, and no, I’ve never been in any city quite THIS cold, but it is certainly beautiful to lay still at night and listen to snow falling softly atop my seasonally quiet neighborhood.

It’s still 40 degrees outside, but winter is officially over and my heart sings for spring.

I finally feel like I’ve figured it out. In a little less than three months, my first year in New York will be over and I could not be more content. I’ve made and trimmed away friends, turned my uptown micro-apartment into a makeshift home, and strengthened my once-wavering faith. It has been nothing short of miraculous to see how every lesson I learned in my twenties has proven to be a survival skill in NYC, especially saving every piece of loose change for the days when dollar pizza was all I could afford. Sometimes I wonder how much better my life could have been if only I didn’t wait so long to move, if I’d just managed to find the nerve to get up and leave sooner, until I remember that everything in my life has happened for a reason. I am where I am supposed to be, in the exact right time and the perfect place, and my tiny apartment has no space for regrets.

It has, after all, been a marvelous nine months. Six weeks after I moved, I met Jay-Z and Nas. I saw Beyonce at the United Nations and again at the premiere of her documentary. I survived two fashion weeks and rubbed elbows with Tim Gunn, befriended dynamic black women who are changing the world, and walked away impressed and humbled by people I have admired my entire life. I grew up when I thought I was all done growing. I learned to be easier with my heart and gentler with my words. And I am growing my own business, which is a strange juxtaposition of learning to market myself and staying true to who I am.
All of this has made me so much fuller inside.

I had to leave my sweet mama in Oklahoma in order to pick up a true appreciation for what it must mean to have raised me. My mama loves to tell of when I was born, a screeching red-skinned bayou baby with a thick head of hair and a relentless voice – a voice that has not quieted thirty entire years later. I am so much more grateful now for my mother’s hands and the way they shaped a woman out of a screaming pile of girl.
I am loud, and kind, and here.

I am so full of love that I could shout it to everyone I pass.
Can’t you see it on me?
Doesn’t my face tell my story?
I am enamored by the beauty all around me, and wholly in love with New York City.