Why I Moved To New York City (And 3 Spots That Shaped My Story)

I distinctly remember a conversation I had with one of my best friends at home in Los Angeles when we were about 16 years old. We were waiting in a restroom line after seeing The Family Stone and talking about how much fun it would be to live together in New York City when we went to college. We would have our own amazing apartment (we didn't know much about Manhattan real estate), decorate it just the way we liked, and be totally independent. Fast forward a decade later... and we actually did it. Granted, she didn't go to school in New York — I did — and she caught up with me a few years later. She's also back in L.A. now, but the New York dream remains very real to both of us.

It sounds a bit silly, but for me, New York has always been a sparkly little island full of exciting opportunities and infinite possibilities. It's hardly ever easy, but living here is a rewarding challenge that, when treated as such, can be anything you want it to be. I came to New York when I found the perfect university program for me — one that allowed me to take classes in art, costuming, film, history, and spend a lot of time interning at a major fashion magazine for credit. In the past seven years that I've been here, I've worked as a stylist, writer, producer, professional DIY-er, and project manager, and each opportunity has mutated into something new that couldn't exist anywhere else. There's still something new around each corner (literally), and I'm sure I'll always feel a bit like a tourist — in the best way possible.

In partnership with NYC New York Color, here are a few city spots that have been major players in my story:

Madison Square Park

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This is where I caught the train three days a week to my first big internship, and it's super close to the Bustle office where I work now. The people-watching will never get old, and if you come at an off hour, the Shake Shack line isn't even that bad.

I've always been prone to all-black-everything, but New York has solidified it. A pop of color is rare for me, but bright bags and lips are an easy way to brighten up a monochrome look.

I'm fortunate to work in an office where there is virtually no dress code. If I feel like dressing up a bit I can, but I could also wear distressed denim and sneakers without anyone raising an eyebrow. Hence this crop top.

It's definitely cliché, but as a California girl, I still love seeing the parks bloom in spring and the leaves fall after summer. The snow, however, is only cute for about a day.

The West Village

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New York makes "fashion risks" completely non-existent. You can experiment as much as you want, and there will always be someone else who's taken it further.

No city that I've been to is better suited to chameleons. There's always someone or something to spark your imagination, and playing a little bit of dress-up every day never gets old.

To me, the West Village is so quintessentially New York. The brownstones, the stoops, the shops, and endless array of ultra-cute cafés and coffee shops feel so quaint in the midst of all craziness.

Because the city is so compact, you can get breakfast in the West Village, stroll around Central Park, shop in SoHo, and have a night out in Brooklyn all in a day — without even getting in a car.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

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When I moved to Brooklyn Heights a couple of years ago, a whole new world opened up. I'm only 10 minutes from Downtown Manhattan, close to the water, and get to enjoy a laid-back neighborhood vibe while still having access to everything I did when I lived over the bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge Park has amazing views of the skyline and lush spots around every path twist for picnicking.

Living in Brooklyn has really given me the best of both worlds, and coming home feels like a mini vacation.

If you had told me when I was 16 that I'd be here now... I probably would have believed you. But it's so much more than I ever could have guessed.

This post is sponsored by NYC New York Color.

Images: Lauren Perlstein

Makeup: Caitlin Wooters; Hair: Aki