The Best Pizza in NYC is in Little Russia

If it weren’t for my parents, I would not have ended up here in NYC. At 16 years old, I knew my post high school path meant something in dance. My father knowing better, encouraged me to follow my dream but take the logical college route rather than jump right into the world of auditions and rejection. Like he has for my entire life, my father supported my decisions and showed it by researching, something my dad is great at, colleges in SanFrancisco and New York City, my top college city choices. He found tons of colleges in each city, jotted down all the important details on his sketch pad with his tiny handwriting and helped me narrow it down to the schools worth visiting. My junior year of college, my parents took me to both SanFrancisco and New York City to check out each of the schools on the list and narrow it down to the few I would apply for. SanFrancisco was amazing and is still one of my favorite cities. I loved the steep hills, the big city image with a low key suburban feel, and of course the ocean close by. I remember the trip well but I must not have loved the schools, because those I do not remember at all. 

Our visit to New York was magical. It was my FIRST visit to NYC. We stayed in a hotel next to the Trump Tower in Columbus circle and I’ll never forget looking down from our hotel room well after midnight to Central Park West below and seeing tons of people still out and about. Of course the colleges were the main priority of this trip but I had a fierce goal to find and buy an “I heart NY” t-shirt so the I could take it back to Denver and rock it with my pleated red skirt just like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in New York Minute. 

Over the next few days we looked at several schools, all with incredible dance programs. We visited The New School, NYU Tisch, Marymount Manhattan and I’m sure a few others. I remember going from neighborhood to neighborhood in constant awe of the city. I remember vividly sitting at the Starbucks on Astor place, one of the few with outdoor seats, waiting to go to our tour at Tisch. We sat at the tables outside and we just watched the people go by. It was my first NYC people watching experience and I’ll never forget it. I sat with my mom, talking about the busy New Yorkers flying by, my dad’s nose likely in his map or handwritten itinerary. For years, whenever I passed that Starbucks I remembered that moment. I speak of it because not only is it a fond memory, there is significant irony to the location. That particular Starbucks is long gone and it is now a Flywheel. If only my 17 year old self knew I would be teaching spin classes 15 years later in that exact spot. 

All of the schools seemed great but Marymount was clearly the school for me. Everything about it seemed like a good fit and I knew it was the one to apply to. Thanks to all my dads detailed research I had found my college! Even though they say not to, I put all my eggs in the Marymount basket, only applying to ONE school. I didn’t even apply for a state school as a backup. The following year I auditioned for the Marymount dance program. The stars aligned and I got accepted to both the academic and dance programs and Marymount Manhattan college. New York City, here I come! 

It was my intention to post this blog on father’s day, almost two months ago. I started it well before but my multiple jobs took precedence. I had planned to post it as a thank you to my dad for not only getting me here, but for helping to create some pretty special New York memories. Memories like the time he came out for parents weekend my sophmore year and we went all the way into the depths of Brooklyn to have the so-called best pizza in all of New York City and found ourselves in the depths of Little Russia. Or the time (one of the many) we went to a Yankees/Twins game at the old Yankee stadium for his birthday and stayed until the tied up 13th inning in which Alex Rodriguez effortlessly knocked it out of the park for a walk off home run. Frank Sinatra serenaded us as we celebrated the epic victory. 

He came here for all of my college performances, graduations and three of my five New York marathons. We’ve had some pretty delicious meals here, again thanks to his extensive research and explored some pretty cool neighborhoods. I couldn’t have a blog about my New York memories without including my father (Mom I’ll get to you next) mostly because, without him, I wouldn’t have any memories here at all. It’s a little late to be a father’s day gift and really early to be a Christmas gift but I want you to know how thankful I am to you for not only helping me find the perfect path here in NYC but for working so hard to let me follow my dreams. You’ve always worked your ass off for both mom and I and I want you to know I recognize and appreciate it. Thank you for showing me what being a good man means and for setting the bar extremely high for the man I chose to my husband. 

As I enter my final month as a New York City resident I think back to my very first trip. You worked very hard to help me find a place here that both helped me follow my dreams and open new doors. Job well done Dad. Thank you for helping me get here. Thank you for dealing with the years of phone calls asking for money to help me stay here. Thank you for helping me love it here and thank you for always cheering on my life here. All the way from Colorado I have felt your love here.  I can leave this city in one month and honestly say I accomplished what I came here for and that is thanks to you.  I love you dad! 

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