My first realization of being in New York City was actually someone else’s.
That being the lady sitting next to me on the Greyhound, to be exact.
The bus comes to a stop at the station (which is underground), the lights switch on and the driver announces that we had arrived to our destination. The lady wakes up and turns over to me in a dazed and bewildered glare and says, “Where are we?” I respond, gently, and say, “We’re in New York.”
Girl: “Wait… we’re where?”
Me: “In New York, like New York City.”
She glances around at the other passengers as they exit the bus and asks, “Wait… so we’re in New York?”
Me: “Yes, we’re in New York.”
At this point, not only am I exhausted from the bus ride & answering the same question over and over again, but I’m also getting a little nervous because her line of questioning is making me wonder if I’m in the right place and if I should even be here myself.
We reached the end of our fruitless exchange and remain as the last two people on the bus (I had the window seat, so I was trapped). She finally picks up her things and asks one final time, “New York?”
And again, the answer was, yes, we… I was in New York City for the first time, and it was my moment to face the music.
Before I graduated from college, I heard the Lord speak a promise to me concerning New York that I’ve never forgotten. But you know how fear and doubt can creep in, so I started to question if I heard Him correctly since 5 months post grad, I hadn’t received a single offer from any of the jobs I applied to in the area.
I had a failed attempt to relocate to New York earlier this summer. I made arrangements to stay with a relative that fell through the day before I was set to leave; Greyhound ticket in hand and everything. Although I had to face the disappointment of not being able to follow through with my plans, I couldn’t let that stop me.
I started a new job working retail in September, so after I got through my week of training, I made it my goal to get my money together to set up my trip of faith.
I knew I couldn’t go to New York City without a plan, I also knew I couldn’t go up there and partake in touristy shenanigans. On this trip, I was there to work. I comprised a list of journalists, bloggers and fashion influencers in the city that I wanted to meet-up with while I was in town and sent out emails to each of them. Some responded, others didn’t, but I knew all I needed was a couple of yes’s. And I got two, one from a fashion blogger and the other from an account director for one of my favorite online publications/magazines.
My next goal was to find housing and since I have no family or friends in the city to room with, or so I thought, I began looking up hostels in the area in hopes to find a good deal. But something told me to text my friends from school, Mariya, to let her know that I would be in town. Later that day, she replied with a text that changed the whole course of my planning. She offered to open her place up to me during my visit and I couldn’t have been more grateful! This just went to show that God was making provisions for me even before I arrived!
It was then time to actually purchase my bus tickets, because ain’t nobody ballin’ enough to afford a plane ticket. To save as much mula as possible, my first stop was to megabus.com to catch a good deal. I ended up finding a ticket from Columbia to DC and back for $15 each! But when I went to buy it, my computer would not make the transaction go through. I tried to buy the ticket twice a day for two weeks, thinking it was just a problem with my card or maybe my cookies we’re flipping out or something, but nothing worked. And as you may already guess, as the days grew closer to my departure, the prices shot up. I ended up paying way more than I set out to. But thankfully, the funds I put aside for housing was placed towards the tickets… plus my Greyhound ticket from DC to NY was only $16 both ways.
The day I was set to go, everything was in place; bags were packed, Google maps set, and I was ready to hit the road. My bus was scheduled to depart from Columbia, SC at 3am and since I live about an hour and a half from there, my folks and I had to leave pretty early to allow room for traveling errors, which we needed. I gave my dad the directions before I dozed off, but I soon woke up in a panic when I saw that we weren’t on the right side of town and my directions landed us in a place where us brown folks shouldn’t be after dark.
It’s now 2:40am and my stomach is in knots.
I couldn’t miss my bus! So we GPS’ed the correct location and luckily, we were 15 minutes away. At this point, it’s a race against time to make it to the station and we arrive there at 3:03am, praying that the bus was just a few moments behind schedule. But after asking someone at the stop if the bus had come, he informed us that TWO had already came and left.
I was devastated. Could this be the Lord telling me that it wasn’t the right time for me to go, again???
I went back home in hopes to get an exchange on my tickets for a later time that day, but after speaking with unhelpful customer service reps, I had to put out for two new tickets (I could feel the money leaving my grips even before I got there!).
But I knew this was God’s way of showing me that I needed to put my faith in His protection & provision, not my pockets.
But sure enough, I was on my way to NYC later that afternoon.
Once I got settled in to my friend’s place, I was sending email after email to my contacts and a few new ones, while prepping for my dinner chat later that evening.
Things went really great with the blogger I met up with; she was extremely helpful and answered all of my pressing questions about her work & experience living in the city.
After I left the restaurant, I met up with my friend so we could head back to her place. We were enjoying a conversation to ourselves on the train when the cart jerks and my purse falls on the ground. I don’t think too much of it at the time. But when we got back to Flatbush to catch the bus that would take us to her house, I looked in my purse to answer a text and would you believe that my phone is cracked?!? I assumed that my camera fell on my phone when the train jerked, so now I was miles away from home with no phone!
And this was only my first day!
I could have let the incidences from the previous day shake me, but my second day in the city was better. As my friend and I were waiting on our train, I heard a voice compliment my hair and say, “Excuse me, but you’re curls look amazing.” To my surprise, when I turned around, it was the YouTube loc star herself, Chescaleigh!
I couldn’t believe my eyes! After all that went down the day before, I knew God set that divine encounter up to show me that I was in the right place at the right time. We talked the whole train ride about YouTube politics, colorism in the digital space, racial injustice, among other things, and actually got off at the same stop. Needless to say, my
day trip was made.
The rest of the day entailed another lunch chat that was… interesting… some sight seeing & photo taking around Time Square and a Sip & Social mixer held by the Spelmen/Morehouse Alumni Association.
Man, what a day that was. But it was definitely a great way to end the trip.
During my +10hr. bus ride back from New York, I got to thinking: my trip didn’t go exactly as planned. I thought that if I stepped out on faith that something big and tangible would come to fruition… according to my plans. But then I had to really check myself and consider all the good that did happen: I had a place to stay for free, I got to experience New York for the first time, I met one of my favorite YouTubers through a crazy divine encounter, and I still have some connection to be made in the near future that I know will play a vital role in my relocation if I play my cards right.
So you’ve read everything that happened during my trip of faith, but let’s get real, you still probably have a few questions like… Does faith really work? Will God honor your steps of faith if you believe? And if He does, how long does it take to see the fruit?
In my next post, we’ll get into the importance of being obedient to God’s Word and having faith beyond what your eyes can see. So stay tuned for the third installment of “Aley Arion Hits NYC” because things are getting juicy!
You’ve just been served.