Two months ago, a blond walked into the start up magazine that I am working at to begin her summer stint as our Style Department's summer intern and I knew immediately the fun had started. Mimi was brand spankin' new to NYC, coming from the interior design program at LSU. Hailing from outside New Orleans, I wasn't worried about her handling the characters of New York (I mean, New Orleans if FULL of characters, if nothing else) but conquering the subway system was another thing. Being handed assignments Day 2 that sent her scouring the city meant she had to jump in with all her weight or she might not survive the fast paced environment of magazine land. Her gig was hard because there wasn't any real "job" description or intern handbook that could pave the road for her. She was the first so she had to ask a lot of questions and be a quick study. After she'd been there a few days, I sat down with her to talk about what she wanted out of the experience. I told her that my expectation for her summer wasn't that she return to school with new design sketches or a loaded Rolodex or being able to name off every interior designer in the city but rather to be curious about life around her while she was here. She'll make the contacts, get the inspiration for new projects and learn the big wigs in the design community if she learned to be really curious about life. I wanted her to explore NYC as hard and deep as she could. Hit Broadway, walk everywhere, eat weird foods, visit different boroughs, hit the museums-the list went on. And man, did she take this advise and run with it. She started a delightful blog, Little Girl, Bigger Apple. She walked the Brooklyn Bridge, hit the Met, fell in love lamb meatballs tapas at Alta and hated shopping on Canal Street (understand that) and supported local businesses with gusto. She did most of it by herself too, leaving work at 6pm after a full day to continue her nighttime city exploration. When company came (and boy, did they), she'd take them to favorite haunts and shared the experiences in her blog.
Like the teacher learning from the student, coming up with places for her to check out, got me seeing the city with new eyes again too. Walking the Highland the other night, I felt like I saw the city as she would have seen it and loved it. I've become a new fan of Rockaway Beach with it's-brand-new-this-summer-foodie-boardwalk and clean beaches. Rather than toss out an off Broadway special offer for a new show claiming to be "too busy" I actually bought a ticket. I found myself looking in Time Out and New York Magazine for new, interesting things and dissatisfied with nights not filled with something fun. Her sense of adventure made me proud.
At some point, we started depending on her so much at work that she got the nickname "boss". We felt like we were working for her when she cracked the whip on a task and she developed a sense of ownership of her work which we loved. Sadly, she left us on Saturday to return to college where, no doubt, more adventures are awaiting but I sure feel blessed to have had her in my orbit this summer. Needless to say, the Style Department now holds a Very High Bar for incoming interns. The non-curious need not apply.
In honor of Mimi, here are five new things I discovered this summer:
#1 Rockaway Beach-A bit of a haul on the subway but soooo worth it. Clean beaches, nice crowds, a DJ that plays good tunes and really yummy food on the boardwalk.
#2 Late evening picnics in Central Park. I've always done picnics during the day but I joined friends one summer night at twilight and it was truly magical.
#3 Richard Serra's Drawings at the Met. Just stunning (and yes, the McQueen exhibit next to it was worth the weight too).
#4 Drinks overlooking Central Park at the new Design Museum. It's a small, charming museum with a penthouse restaurant/bar view worth visiting. The piano player is tops too!
#5 Free yoga at Union Square is a hoot and nice way to start to the day.
Live large with eyes for new adventures,