I have no idea how i’ll leave New York.
Nobody’s making me, or asking me to, or presenting me with additional options, but over my head looms this end date I always assumed would come to me as clearly and loudly and as bright as a Times Square billboard saying “TIMES UP”. Such a time has not come yet. I moved here almost 7 years ago, which to this day blows my mind. Even more insane to me (and most people in this always-needing-a-change city) remains that I’ve had the same apartment almost the entire time I’ve been here, making my apartment and NYC as a whole the 2nd longest place I’ve ever lived outside of my childhood home.
I moved to New York “for one year”, to knock it off my bucket list, to say I did it – “it” being something I made a promise to myself to do when I was approximately 12 years old when I came to visit with my family for the first time. I just felt at home here in a way I didn’t really in St Louis. I liked all the different types of people, of dress, the languages, the neighborhoods, the *difference* in general. St Louis has changed and grown so much and I am proud to be from that city but growing up I saw it as such a boring and bland place — too cookie cutter even for my 12 year old eyes.
let me paint a picture for the kind of kid I was growing up. I remember hanging out at the mall with my friends and walking past a Limited Too (age appropriate for me at the time) and seeing these pair of patchwork blue jeans. my friends at the time made fun of them and said they were dumb or ugly or whatever they were saying and i INSTANTLY needed to own them. OMG i found almost an EXACT picture of them!! here:
i was obsessed with making things that people thought were ugly into something cool and pretty. the girl on the playground nobody was hanging out with? let’s see what her story is. this creepy necklace with a spider on it? i bet i could make this look feminine and pretty. give me $50 and set me free in the mall and i could find an enormous amount of “Buy One Get One” sale items that nobody else wanted and rock them.
did people thing i was weird or different? totally. and i was bullied for the second half of grade school. but i did not GIVE. A. SHIT. about what these annoying girls thought of me. i dont know how i knew at 12 years old that doing what i wanted was more important than their approval but i love myself for it (and totally give some credit to my parents as well). visiting New York made me feel like EVERYONE in the city felt like they needed those patchwork jeans too. everyone marched to the beat of their own drum, they fought for their passions or careers or their demo or their fashion line and everybody around just let them be. “Do You” should be the slogan of the city, if i could be in charge of making one. I’ll talk to Cuomo about that.
i have never been in a 7 year relationship with a human but i have with this city, and i feel like this city is prepping me for the time when i am that committed to someone i love. i came here for fun, realized it’s actually a pretty cool place to be, made a home for myself and have decided i will stay here until it no longer nurtures me. the past 2 years have been years where, honestly, I’ve reeeeeeeeeally had a hard time loving it here still. i would say to people “i think i’m done with New York” and they’d say “but you’re still here! you’ve gotta love it in some way!” a valid point to which i’d respond “i hate it 49.5% and love it 50.5%” – i said this A LOT and really truly felt like it. but where would i go? what if this had to do with my job? my relationship? if i changed one of those would i like the city more? what if i went to more local NYC spots around and grew a new appreciation for the city? i didn’t really do any of that to be honest but i did do one thing – i rode it out.
if life is about peaks and valleys and ups and downs and intermittent stagnancy, after 2 years of being in a valley with how i feel about NYC, i’m back to being at a peak. everything here to me looks like a postcard i want to frame. i take internal pictures of everything – the obviously new couple holding the subway pole together and flirting; the skateboarders in union square; the chaotic traffic around Columbus Circle which nobody seems to know how to navigate; the feeling of telling a cab driver which route to take so he doesn’t screw you over; ALL of it has returned to being magic to me, and i don’t know how i could ever leave this place.
i do take it for granted. i mean, when i want to go to the art museum, my local spot is the Met – one of the most famous in the world. going to a play doesn’t mean visiting the local theater of hardworking neighbors but Broadway, the best of the best. the oysters are from a mere few miles away. my favorite restaurants where i kick my feet up and order a “usual” are lauded worldwide for their unique takes. THE PIZZA I MEAN DEAR GOD.
all the time i wonder when i’m going to leave and where in the hell i’d go – and i’m asked this consistently. i have no fucking idea how to live anywhere else. i joked with my friend who asked where i would move and said, “if i could find a place where i didn’t have to drive with incredible food and interesting people and unique things to do and it was on the East Coast (or at least the Eastern Time Zone) i would probably end up there”. her response? “Oh yeah, you’re never leaving New York”.