Food Allergy 101: Welcome to NYC, Mr. Allergy!
What if my food allergy was a real, live person? And what if I could talk to him about what he's taught me over the years? Every Thursday, I get that chance...
BLOG POST #110 — I'm sitting at a restaurant in Manhattan. It's half a block from my new apartment, and I'm thinking about the first week of my internship and about being away from home alone for the first time in my life.
I'm lost in my thoughts when I feel a tap on my shoulder. It's Mr. A., my food allergy. I turn and smile.
"Welcome to New York City!" I say in an enthusiastic tone.
My enthusiasm catches him off guard.
"I didn't think you'd be excited to see me," he says. "You didn't even tell me you were moving to New York City for the summer."
I shrug. "I knew you'd find me," I say. "Besides, it's OK that you're here."
"It is?" he says surprised. "But you're all alone. How can you do the foods all by yourself in a city of strangers?"
"New York City is probably one of the most allergy-friendly cities in the world," I say. "I've been here 11 days. I've eaten at 13 restaurants. That's probably more restaurants than I have enjoyed at home. Welcome to New York City!"
He looks down. "Oh," he says. "I thought it would be more of a struggle. In fact, because of your allergy I thought you'd even consider not having an internship so far away from the safety of home."
"What?" I say enthusiastically. "And miss out on all of this!"
I smile. He doesn't. It's going to be a great summer!
JJ Vulopas is a rising senior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. An advocate for young people, JJ has lived with food allergies his entire life. He is the author of the children's book, Land of Not. You can read his daily blog at www.thelandofcan.com. Follow him on Instagram & Twitter @thelandofcan.