Since my recent visit to New York City was only a week long, I wanted to make the most of the time I had.

For one thing, I had a list of food spots that I wanted to hit up. Except for one place, Pearl Oyster Bar (which serves the best lobster roll I’ve had on the East Coast), my list primarily consisted of places that had a factor of nostalgia for me. That meant that my picks were pretty cheap, since I was close to broke for many extended periods during the years I lived in New York. It included some Lower East Side locations: Vanessa’s Dumplings, which had four mandoo-like dumplings either boiled or fried for $1; New Roma Pizza, which is open all night; and Mott Corner, home of the best chicken cutlet hero in NYC. (A chicken cutlet hero is pretty much a katsu submarine sandwich.) I also got chicken and lamb over rice from a halal cart. Some of the carts are way better than others, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in quality since it had been so long.

DJing in New York was super fun and a bit of a trip. I had heard complaints that people don’t dance much any more, but I didn’t experience that problem when I hit the decks at Tender Trap in Greenpoint. I used to work at a long-closed graffiti store, Alphabeta, that was next door to this venue. The people who took over the bar added some cool touches. There was a front bar area about the size of Downbeat Lounge, with a dance floor/stage similar in size to Dragon Upstairs that incorporated a half-pipe into the area.

One of the highlights of my trip was a 30-mile bike ride around Manhattan’s perimeter, which included a stop at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and a stop at my alma mater, Columbia University. Biking through the city was so beautiful, and there are so many different neighborhoods that have completely different atmospheres and cultures. There is no way that you could see and experience so much in a few hours except by bike. I rode on a tandem bike with my friend Lisa, since she doesn’t know how to ride a bike by herself yet. I also took a trip out of town with my friend Skitsnygg, a record producer and DJ, to visit and DJ with our friend from the band Designer Drugs. We made a track with him at his studio in the Poconos (pictured above), a couple hours west of NYC in Pennsylvania.

I easily could have stayed much longer, yet I still would have been happy to stay shorter. NYC is tight, but I think Honolulu’s about the same level of tightness. I feel like everyone there thinks that it’s an impossibly expensive dream to live in Hawaii, and that everyone here thinks that New York would be too expensive. They’re both about the same and both worth the sacrifices. At this point in my life, I feel like I made the right choice to return to Hawaii to pursue my dreams — and I’m glad to be back.