Leaving New York

The cab took me uptown on 5th Avenue towards Grand Central, and I looked out calmly on New York under the sun's brilliant rays of light. Even as I was leaving on this quiet summer afternoon, I could still feel the pulsating rhythm of the city around me. 

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Rainy Days

"Oh my gosh, don't you just love this weather?" M exclaimed as we walked briskly out of her luxury doorman building in Fidi. It was absolutely horrendous weather, that dead silence before a massive storm. Even worse, we had just been hit with a wave of torrential downpour the night before, so the air was damp, the clouds hung low, and the skyline was as grey as ever.

"Uhhh, yeahhh," I muttered, failing at feigned enthusiasm. M had just moved to New York from Singapore (hence everything is and will be preceded by an oh my gosh for the first 6 months), where it's probably a year-round tropical paradise, so this weather may actually be kind of nice in her book. 

I had caught the 2 express train downtown to her apartment late morning, and we shared a large pan of home cooked noodles that she had prepared. Come over! I woke up to her text of a picture of a giant steaming pan of noodles. I was catching a cold so she also made me some hot green tea. "This is my favorite tea! Oh by the way, I went to yoga this morning. It was amazing!" She continued on in her upbeat mood as usual, before I could respond. So I sat there eating and listening to her as she went on about what she did in the last 12 hrs since she left work (went out dancing, slept, made super healthy egg sandwich breakfast, went to yoga, shopped at club monaco and got two cute shirts and pants at their 30% off sale, and then made such pan of noodles that I am currently munching on). She always had the most interesting things to say.

It was quite extraordinary, actually, for someone who was working 11-hr days in banking to still have this much energy. In just her 4 months here, she's been to nearly every festival, activity, restaurant (well, as many as you can go in 4 months), and neighborhood I've been in nearly one year. Instead of me giving her the tips, she was informing me of all the latest must-sees and must-eats of the city. M and I had just met two months ago at a friend's birthday dinner, and we were already too close to be seen without eachother. 

On our way walking to Tribeca's art galleries, we ran into this park by Fulton, which I proclaimed that we must check out (not realizing that we would be late for the gallery opening speech she had wanted to go to). That's the thing with M, she was a rare blend self-assurance and outspokenness while still being extraordinarily accommodating. I had a thing for parks, which she might have known. 

"You're going to be my model." I started posing her and snapping pictures here and there.

"Oh gosh, didn't know I signed up for this," she sighed, batting her lashes and making a face.

"Stay still," I ignored her. "Now relax."

She took a deep breath. "I will sacrifice myself for your photos."

"Stop it, you look beautiful."

And before we knew it, the rain started coming down. After missing the gallery opening, we ended up at Silk Road Cafe in Chinatown, where we ran into an old friend of hers. New York is small like that, even if you're not from here.

We slowly sipped on tea complemented by a lovely chocolate mousse cake as we peered out the windows into the rain at passerby's. M continued on about the new book she was now reading, the newest food items she now craved, and then of course boy stories. Ohhh, boys (or, uh, men, excuse us), they were always too interesting of a topic to pass up.

The West Side

Weekend brunches in New York is a big thing. Attire is always casual chic. That effortless morning-after (partying) look with sunglasses, red lipstick, unbrushed hair tied back in a bun, and a big comfy form-flattering sweater (preferably with one side hanging off-the-shoulders).

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The London Startup

"What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over...The notion that it's too late to do anything is comical. It's hilarious. We're graduating from college. We're so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have."

onefinestay.com

It's true that I've been all over the place with my career. From accounting to finance, consulting to media, psychology to retail/fashion, my interests have changed as quickly as the seasons. Like most 22-year-olds, I am eager, (overly) confident, and unwaveringly stubborn in my quest to change the world (lawl, *rolls eyes at self*). 

And so as most of my former-banker/finance/media/medicine/you-name-it friends, I've now ventured into the sea of startups, inspired by Marissa Mayer's 13th-Google-employee story and expedited success (forgetting that she's really just one in a million), and have set my eyes on taking my company valuation skills (or so I think) to identifying the next startup of the decade and jumping on that band wagon on the road to explosive success (lawllllllll, *rolls eyes twice at self*). 

And despite this self-mockery of my naive idealistic thoughts, I have to admit that a part of me still believes, and always will believe, in the future. Because as Marina Keegan put it so well - We can still do anything. We're so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have.

Since last June, I've been following this rapidly expanding London startup called onefinestay, a luxury, full-service version of Airbnb that takes beautiful (often multi-million dollar) homes in major vacation cities like New York, LA, Paris and London to rent out to those willing to pay a premium for that extra comfort, safety and service (including a free iPhone, five-star linens, fully stocked kitchen, and full concierge service) on their vacation.

Homes are curated and photographed by a team of experts, and displayed beautifully online and in their Guestbook Journal - "A Journal about Living Beautifully and Sharing It". 

onefinestay.com

onefinestay.com

Something about their practice and philosophies resonated with me. I knew a missing piece of my career so far was incorporating an element of design and...well, beauty in what I do. I love anything beautiful. Or maybe that's not the right way to put it. I believe in discovering the beauty in what we do, in the people we meet, in the places we see, in the emotions we feel, in the events that happen and are happening, in everything and anything around us.

onefinestay.com

Sometimes we are so focused on the future that we forget what is happening right in front of us. And we forget that there is beauty in this moment right now, every moment, because there is beauty in the simple fact that we are alive and breathing in this world, in the fact that any moment now could be the last moment that we have to live.

And I want to share what I see and feel with people around me, to spread happiness, laughter, ambition, purpose, generosity, love, health and goodness in this world. 

It may sound contradictory because onefinestay offers luxury amenities that many of us would not be able to afford. The product is material and it is not free, while all the things I mentioned above are. But what I admire about this business (because after all, every business is in the business of making money) are the resources it has dedicated to creating free neighborhood guides and resources for everyone, to in their words, "[live] beautifully and [share] it". Instead of just taking each property to list it, onefinestay takes the time and effort to learn about the lives and histories of the owners behind each home, to share and spread stories of love, art, history, travel, success, and life itself.

onefinestay is more than just about luxurious travel. It's about a lifestyle, a mindset, and an approach to living life - no matter how busy or unpleasant the situations we are in - mindfully and happily.

onefinestay.com