We like most couples that have cohabitated for many years, have standard phrases we use, a kind of relationship shorthand.

I hear myself asking a question out loud while in my head I am hearing my husband’s reply.

“Did you look in the attic?” is a pretty standard one in our house for anything that seems to have gone astray.

One time, before I asked the question out loud, I did in fact look in the attic. There are boxes up there since the day we moved into our house. (At this point it is 13 years). They’re still labeled, sitting unopened in the same spot they were placed on the day we moved in. While I was up there and moving boxes around, I wondered as I usually do, what in fact was in those boxes, so I decided to open one.

I opened a box of notebooks I’d kept packed since I’d moved from Australia. I’d always been a journal keeper and had many periods in my life where I found journaling a great way to clear the path forward in my head. Buried deep among the journals was a cloth bound travel diary a friend had made for me. The book was hand bound and featured a naval flag printed fabric cover. It was made for the occasion of my first trip to New York. I always made the distinction that the trip was to “New York” as opposed to the United States. I only came to New York before flying on to Europe.

Of course I ended up sitting on the attic floor reading the adventures of my 24 year-old self, feeling slightly embarrassed by my naiveté but captivated by the electric rhythm of the writing. I was deep in the memories and grateful that my younger self had captured the many details of each day. It was a thrilling time and the city hummed with possibility. My days were filled with walking the streets around the Upper West Side apartment where the Australian friend I was visiting lived. Central Park was close by and I was enthralled by this expanse of nature and hubbub of urban cool intertwining as I walked through each day.

I was now experiencing all of the forces that had shaped my world of music and film. I’d landed in the middle of the most exhilarating universe and I was too excited to sleep. I’d walk all day and visit museums, music stores, take boat rides around the island and then go out to nightclubs and dance to incredible music surrounded by a crowd of sweaty revelers. It seemed that each night I’d be heading back to the apartment bouncing along the avenues uptown in the back seat of a yellow cab just as the sun was rising. I’d sleep for a few hours and be coaxed awake by the thrum of the city outside.

I turned the pages of my diary and found the little white prophesies from fortune cookies stuck on the pages along with ticket stubs from a concert at Radio City and the program from the midnight laser light show at the Hayden Planetarium. I’d been swept off my feet by this electrifying city but could never have imagined that one day I would make this city my home.

How could I have known this was just the beginning of a love affair that would eventually allow me to make this remarkable city my home? Or that I’d meet the man of my dreams one snowy December weekend in a tiny Catskills town only to find we lived just one block from each other in the city? And that together we could build a life and have a child. It’s a document to tell my son to “Dream Big” and often.