Thursday, June 12, 2014

From the Midwest to Midtown: A Reluctant Transplant's Return to the City

As an intern last summer for the teenage girl’s Bible Seventeen, Kristin Doherty covered celebrity news and helmed the magazine’s Pinterest account. The experience provided her with writing and blogging opportunities—as well as an unparalleled knowledge of Justin Bieber’s latest whereabouts and Miley Cyrus’s fashion choices. But by the end of her summer in the city, the Illinois-native-turned-Iowa-student wasn’t quite ready to renounce Wrigley Field in favor of Rockefeller Plaza.
“I actually kind of hated New York,” she confesses in an unapologetic tone that can only be classified as, well, so New York. “I wasn’t really getting the vibes.” 
That she’s recounting this a full year later from a dorm room nestled conveniently in the heart of the East Village is no cruel twist of fate; rather, it’s “a blessing," she says.
Let’s be clear: New Yorkers of 2014 are no less brusque and bustling than those of 2013. Times Square is still touristy and rent prices are still obscene. Yet returning to the city of Sinatra and Shake Shack was a small price to pay (figuratively) for the opportunity to live, breathe and pin weddings as an ASME intern at The Knot.
While daydreams of tulle and tiered cakes are often written off as the stuff of girlhood fancy, Doherty refutes this judgment by connecting her passion and hard work to an even larger meaning. “I’m drawn to service,” the former editor-in-chief of Drake University’s magazine says with genuine humility. “I like to write things that people will actually use or reference, anything that can help people. I’m loving doing weddings right now because you know there are so many brides trying to figure out what a peony is!” she laughs, referring to a recent story in The Knot on the summer flower.
Though a clear fit for the world of weddings, Doherty’s not one to be pigeon-holed. “She could be a foodie writer at heart. That girl's love for bacon is unrivaled,” friend and Doherty's successor at her school magazine, Linley Sanders, tells me in an email. “She even wrote an article based on bacon recipes. Bacon vodka--need I say more?”
No matter the subject, Sanders reaffirms Doherty’s talent and vision. "Honestly, that girl can't go wrong. As a leader, Kristin was probably the most supportive, patient editor I've worked with. She really cared about the process and the development of the staff," she explains.
This emphasis on connection and community resurfaces again as Doherty discusses some of the happiest times in her life, whether she’s praising her hometown’s hospitality (“People are just nice there. Like, really nice.”) or reflecting on her involvement at Drake: “We have pride about school. Our athletics aren’t terribly great, our night life isn’t anything to write home about, but I think Drake’s J-school is the best, and I could go on and on about it.”
Happily, she’s been carving out similar professional and personal niches for herself this summer as work responsibilities are increasing and friends from home are migrating to New York. When I ask her if third time’s the charm, and will she be joining the legions of LaGuardia-bound postgrads this time next year, she replies, “I could see it. I don’t know if that’s what I’ll shoot for, but I’m at the point where I wouldn’t hate coming back.”
And that’s saying a lot.
--Russell Willoughby, University of Alabama, This Old House
--Edited by Jane Claire Hervey, University of Texas at Austin, Reader's Digest

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