Some of the hardest times in my life happened in this Chinatown apartment. Every time I come to NYC, I try to make it a point to stop by and remind myself of how far I’ve come since then. 

I remember finding the apartment listing online and going to see it by myself. I walked in and immediately said to the landlord, “I’ll take it.” I wrote the check on the spot and it was mine. I was so proud to have my first studio apartment on my own after living with three roommates. 

Even if it was a little outdated and even if my view was the interior of the building, it was my very own space I could come home to. I felt proud, empowered. 

Those positive feelings of empowerment began to fade as I struggled to navigate my early 20’s. I was working full time and dancing long, late hours. This is when I began allowing the wrong people access to my life. 

These hard experiences brought me to the choice to stop dancing for many years. I couldn’t bear to be around salsa and be reminded of the pain caused by this time in my life. I still struggle at times to find clarity and balance, but I am here. I made it. 

I realize now it wasn’t dance that hurt me, it was the wrong people I allowed into my life who hurt me. Dance has always been my refuge and I won’t let anyone take that away from me again. This apartment reminds me of my strength and why I still dance today. 

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