I woke up this morning for the fifth day in a row and wondered for a moment where I was. It’s a delicious but confusing feeling, when I’m still halfway asleep, not sure whether I want to stay there or emerge into the real world. And as I sleepily open my eyes, I try to remember where exactly I fell asleep last night. I’m only about half-moved back into my parents’ house and I’m still thinking of my apartment as my apartment. I haven’t settled in yet, and there’s a part of me—a pretty big part actually—that doesn’t want to get settled.
I’ve been saying for awhile that I needed a change, and that change would involve saying goodbye to Ms. NYC. But the thing is, it’s New York City! There’s always a reason to stay. Even when it drives me crazy, I can still think of half a dozen things that I love about the place. I still have a running list of things that I want to do which can only be done here. And so, when the time came when I probably should leave, I would be able to find a reason to stay, to say “not yet, wait just a little longer, give it one more chance.” I put down roots here, and despite my desire to leave, it would take a lot of strength to pull them out one by one and walk away. Not so anymore. I’ve been yanked out of the NYC concrete by a force beyond myself and set aside, back to a place where every fiber of my being yearns to leave.
With Roo, I’ve bitterly joked that I’m turning the clock back to 2010. Before grad school, before this blog, before my big starry-eyed move to NYC; back when I was chafing at the confines of my childhood home, dreaming of something bigger and better than this. Newly single, trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life now that one path (a life with Wolf) was blocked; frustrated and full of possibility. And, of course, incredibly naïve. That was back when I still had the Sex and the City idea of NYC, when I had a secret belief that my life once I moved would be all glamorous parties, club openings, and sexy men. Back when I believed that I had an advantage over all those other starry-eyed dreamers because I already knew NYC, she’d been in my backyard my whole life and knowing her would give me a leg up on the success we were all striving for.
It turns out, growing up in the shadow of those concrete and steel spires did give me an advantage; just not the kind I’d hoped for. It gave me the ability to leave. While those other dreamers are still struggling and scraping to reach the ten-year mark and authentically call themselves New Yorkers, I have the benefit of knowing that wherever I go, no matter what city or non-city I end up in, I will always be a New Yorker. Not the Carrie Bradshaw New Yorker I thought I would be; not the struggling, dreaming, all-hours strap-hanger I’ve been over the last two-plus years; not the brunching, happy-hour spotting, bar-hopping name dropper; not the culture fiend or hipster or dating-like-it’s-my-job single girl; not the work-is-my life corporate ladder climber or struggling-for-my-art starving artist. I’m the kind of New Yorker that has concrete and steel in my bones, that has a decades-long history with this city, that has seen it change and change again. And the kind that years from now, when I sink my roots in different soil, drop the baggage of my travels and say “this seems like a good place to stay for good”, will have the unspoken words “in New York” tacked on whenever I say, “Back home”.