“Is anyone home?”

“Can you please bring my passport to the airport?”

Two hours before my flight to New York, I was sipping beer in a happy hour when I realized I left my passport at home. Thanks to my lovely housemate Sarah, I boarded the plane.

Second fail in a row. I planned to attend the Raptors vs Knicks game at the Madison Square Garden. After confusing Eastern and Pacific time zones, I booked a return flight during the game and had to book a new one.

Soon I will learn it was all worth it. I landed on the East Coast.

“Brooklyn Bridge Park”, Uber driver confirmed my destination and I pooled with a lovely couple from San Francisco. On the way, we exchanged some boring arguments about the differences between New York and San Francisco. “It’s our first time in New York”, said the guy. I smiled and agreed it’s my first time as well.

I wished them a nice stay and jumped off the Uber car. What came next was an amazing sunrise at 6 am…

Brooklyn Bridge on Feb 25, 6 am.

NOOOT. The day was foggier than summers in San Francisco. So, without further delay, I crossed the bridge and entered the Urban Jungle.

“If you make it in New York, you can make it anywhere”

Two weeks ago, my high-school friend Laurynas relocated from London to New York as part of his bank’s placement program. He was the only person to get it.

“If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere” is the capture he used next to a picture of Times Square. As you probably know already (and as I later learned from Spotify’s “New York” playlists), it’s a phrase often used in popular music culture by artists like Jay-Z and others.

Why is it true?

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, walking around the Financial District, Soho and all the way to the Times Square, I couldn’t help but admire the countless skyscrapers, parks and beautiful buildings along the way.

“Is this where Kevin McCallister met the pigeon lady in Home Alone 2?”

I thought about Mindaugas Kuzminskas (New York Knicks guard from Lithuania) and his journey from Zalgiris to Spain’s Malaga to New York Knicks in just a few years. He’s barely older than me, and has achieved what so many basketball players only dream about.

I also thought about my coursemates, law graduates who dreamed about getting a work placement in New York. As much as every soldier wants to be a general, every economics student wants to work in Wall Street.

“I’m glad Laurynas made thus far” I thought to myself and smiled, while sipping latte from some small, cute Soho coffee place on Broadway St. He made it to New York, and it’s only the beginning.

Just like in London, you shrink when you’re in New York. You join millions of other people crammed into a small space. People, who follow their dreams.

“It takes courage to move to New York”, I thought.

Different journeys. Same destination.

Laurynas and I have been friends for almost a decade now.

While at school, we shared a passion for math. We both excelled at analytical thinking and represented our school in multiple Olympiads (I didn’t want to admit it but Lauris kicked my ass in math).

Even though our paths went different ways after high-school, we had some adventures together. For example, during college years, we moved across the world to explore life in South East Asia and Oceania.

We also trespassed and skinny dipped in Singapore. We blacked out on the beach in Indonesia (or, at least, I did). We celebrated multiple New Year’s Eve nights together. We also sold some of our best summers working in factories or remote restaurants abroad.

Now, on the way out of the Plaza where Laurynas resided, the kind doorman opened the doors and wished us a great day.

“MES NIUJORKE, SENI!!!”[1] we shouted at each other and smiled.

Not sure if it was the surprisingly warm winter weather… or that cheap whiskey from the night before… But realizing you’re halfway across the world with a friend you deeply respect and admire is a great feeling. Try it, if you get a chance.

Oh, and the most important part.

After a few career discussions here and there we agreed: while it’s great to pursue dreams and gain experience around the world, nothing beats the feeling of being back home.

Even though we’re going through different paths, one day they’ll meet. Most likely, in Lietuva.

More adventures and thoughts from New York in the next post! What has been your experience in New York?

[1] Dude, we’re in New York!!!