Arty and eloquent New Jersey native and ex-Manhattan resident Maya is going to tell you all about her festive YLF birthday gathering in NYC last week. Maya has been reading YLF since 2006, which makes her one of our longest supporters. This is her third guest post and I’m sure there will be many more! Maya, thanks for your loyal support, and I’m glad that you had a special birthday celebration.

After a brutal winter, signs of spring are finally popping up in New York. Ice cream trucks are back on the street, store windows are full of florals and light hues, crowds are flooding Washington Square, and shop owners are leaving their doors open. This usually doesn’t happen until later in the season, but lucky for me, it happened just in time for my 26th birthday, when YLF forum members Shana April, Medusa, and Debora joined me for a celebration. Medusa’s boyfriend and Debora’s daughter accompanied us and the day was a resounding success!

French Cafe

We began the day with brunch at a French cafe, fueling our bodies for the shopping that lay ahead. It took no time at all for everyone to relax and enjoy getting to know more about each other. We chatted about everything from the forum to our families and friends, jobs, and so much more. There was not a dull or awkward moment to speak of, much like on the forum.

After the check had been paid and I was about to put on my coat, Debora pulled out a tiny black and white gift bag from under the table and handed it to me, explaining that everyone pitched in to get me a birthday present. As silly as it may sound, I was actually surprised to get a gift for my birthday! I just assumed the Mayagathering itself was my birthday gift. Needless to say, I hadn’t done any speculating as to what they might get for me. Looking at the size of the bag, I couldn’t imagine what was inside. A necklace? Oh no, it’s not a belt is it?

I removed the tissue paper to find a card (that appropriately acknowledged my love of cats), and inside the card was another card: more specifically, a Zappos gift card! Few people outside of YLF could appreciate what this means to me. I have extremely fussy feet and comfortable, stylish shoes are the hardest thing for me to shop for on my budget. To me, this gift card was so much more than just its cash value. It truly represented the generous, considerate, and helpful nature of the YLF community.

After I thanked everyone a hundred times and we bid our goodbyes to April, who had to get back to her son, we grabbed the next train to Soho to hit the shops. The beautiful weather meant that the shopping crowds were even more intense than usual, but we persevered.

The stores we saw were dominated by the pale spring color palette, which didn’t particularly enthuse any of us, but we managed to find some treasures anyway. Medusa found a nautical striped top at Zara, Shana and I both scored denim leggings at Uniqlo, I finally bought a pleather moto jacket I had been eyeing at H&M, and Medusa’s boyfriend found a bigger haul than all of us girls combined! It will probably be the first and last time that I witness a single man out-shop five women. At Banana Republic, Medusa and I tried on the Martin skinny pant, which would work perfectly as part of my creative business casual wardrobe, but the $90 price tag forced me to look away. Happily, Shana shared a 40% coupon with me, so hopefully soon they will be mine!


As the crowds grew more intense, we decided it was time to sit and relax. Debora’s daughter led us to a tiny and cozy cafe where we concluded the day with brownies, pudding, tea, and great conversation. By the day’s end, I felt as though I had just finished meeting with friends who I had known my whole life. I had such a blast spending the day with all of you, and couldn’t have asked for a better birthday celebration! I look forward to many more New York YLF gatherings in the future!

In case you’re wondering, the Zappos card went towards a pair of Pikolinos that I have been drooling over for months. Every time I wear them and look down at my toes, I smile. Thank you for giving them a place in my closet, ladies, and thank you Angie and Greg for creating such a loving community!