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Hidden Treasures: Unearthing serendipity at a NY Flea Market


May 21, I traveled to New York for a brief one-week study-abroad program. I landed a day earlier than I was supposed to: Sunday, bright and early. I dropped my stuff off at my hotel and promptly went out to explore the streets of NYC. I walked for hours until I stumbled upon Upper West Side's Grand Bazaar flea market. There was quite a line to get in; the area was bustling with people of all ages, and in the coolest outfits I had seen in a while. I guess New York will do that to you; your style evolves and all of a sudden you find yourself effortlessly draped in a Pinterest board outfit you screenshotted months earlier.


As an avid thrifter, I looked at what seemed like EVERY article of clothing and eventually had to tell myself to leave before I spent more money. Right as I turned the corner, these funky earrings caught my eye. I asked the vendor how much she was selling them for and she let me know she would throw in the cool bracelet I tried on all for $13. As I pulled out some cash to pay, she asked me if I enjoyed photography. I forgot I was carrying my camera around my shoulder. I exclaimed yes and told her I had been photographing every beautiful thing I saw that day. I wanted to ask for her photo, but I felt nervous I would offend her in some way. It was like she read my mind- she asked for a photo after introducing herself.


The lovely street vendor who sold me the funky earrings introduced herself as Dolores and asked that I please print her pictures in black and white as she believed they would look best that way. She told me she was an inventor; Dolores invented the "suspender belt:" a belt that attaches itself to suspenders! Double the hold on your pants. I got her number before saying bye and thanked her for the jewelry.


I messaged Dolores the other day to send her the pictures I had taken of her. She never did get back to me, but I think of her every now and then. She was one of those people you interact with only once in your life- the kind that seems so joyful to be living that it leaves a mark on you.


I hope Dolores is doing well and is selling funky earrings to more people outside the Grand Bazaar flea market :)

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