Dear New York,
It’s not you, it’s me.
You exceeded my wildest expectations. I couldn’t have dreamt of the things you would teach me, and the opportunities that you would give to me… but it’s time to say goodbye. It’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I teeter between total denial and total relief that this chapter is behind me.
My original goal was to stay with you for a year, and I stayed for almost three and a half. When I look back at the first day I landed in your giant, unfamiliar, and unforgiving city, I was a different person in every way you can be. My hands shook for a few months and my whole body vibrated with anxiety and nervous energy. I remember the excitement and crippling fear that you gave to me, equally.
I had no idea how I would ever navigate you. But here I am. I know my way around. I went to every borough. I took almost every train. This place is full of life, dreams, energy, and incredible people. I am changed. I am woke. I am in love with you. But you aren’t for me. Your light started flickering for me over a year ago. I felt the pull to be close to family and loved ones. I felt the pull to put down roots in a place that I could build a life. I want a couch. I want to buy a home. It turns out I’m a bit of a country girl after all.
My gait is faster, my speech more direct, my work ethic better. I’m more skeptical of everything, and more self-aware then I’ve ever been. I have a confidence that was never there before. I did it. I moved here, and I made it. I’m less lazy. I’m more independent. I finally know that you have to fight for what you want. I’m tougher than I thought. I’m more sensitive than I thought. I’m more clear of what I want and how to get it. I grew up because of you.
The hardest thing for me was the constant loneliness. This was also my favorite part. I really learned to be alone. I love the anonymity and the invisibility. The ability to disappear in a crowd. I loved going to the movies by myself and holing up in my tiny apartment for the weekend. I’ve been back in Denver a few weeks today and I feel vulnerable, I feel seen, I feel anxious. I know it’s going to take time to adjust, I know it’s not going to be easy. But growth is uncomfortable, and I’m up for the challenge.
One of the best things you gave to me was Twitter, and I’m forever grateful. Working at Twitter was one of the most incredible things that I’ve ever experienced. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I got through the front door, much less the fact that I was able to work there for almost three years. It changed my life and my career trajectory. The people that I met there will be lifelong friends. The skills that I learned have already opened countless doors. Taking the Subway on my last commute into Manhattan from Brooklyn I broke down. I sobbed and blew my nose, and looked around to soak it all in. My last day at work was filled with tears and goodbyes, and overwhelming gratitude.
Who can say that they had an amazing apartment and landlord in New York City? I can. My apartment for the last 2+ years was my safe haven. (the neighborhood…not so much. But inside of my walls I felt safe. I felt home.) I also had the greatest roommate I could have ever asked for. Cokey, you are the reason I stayed as long as I did. I will miss you more than you know. You are a lifelong friend.
My parents flew out to help me pack up and move out. I couldn’t have done it without them and am filled with gratitude that I have parents that love me that much. We flew back to Denver with 14 pieces of luggage, and now I’m here.
I feel blessed. I feel raw. I will come back to see you soon, my love. Until then, I will carry the weight of you in my heart forever. I hope you bestow as much love and adventure on the next girl who lands with a one-way ticket and a dream.
“I’m going to stop you right there. I want you to verbally list out three things that you have accomplished because you haven’t owned a couch.”
This is what you hear after you diminish yourself in front of your life coach.
I pause not knowing what to say. I pause realizing how much I use this metaphor. I pause because she just showed me a glimpse into how I see myself and it is a difficult reality.
I often resort to self-deprecating humor when I compare my life to other friends my age and it usually goes something like this, “So-and-so owns a house, a boat, and has two kids. I don’t even own a couch.”
“Verbally list three things that you have accomplished by not owning a couch.” She said it again.
“I moved to New York, I’ve travelled all over the place, and I have the freedom to move anywhere that I want because I don’t own a couch.” I blurted out. Not a sophisticated list, but all felt important.
“Not so easy to move across the country with a couch is it? Not owning a couch has meant freedom for you. That is a beautiful thing.”She said.
She has a way of spinning all of the countless ways I diminish myself from a negative to a positive.(See below, I could list a hundred more (I think we all could) The left is what I apologize for, the right is what she sees from her lens)
Finished my degree later in life=Wisdom and self awareness
Change my mind a lot=Growth and evolution in the rawest form
I had no idea how much I diminish, apologize, and tiptoe around things that I say and how I act. Now that I have the awareness I’m going to make an effort to pause and spin it into a positive. I over explain things all of the time when there isn’t a need to do so. We over explain our insecurities and I don’t want to anymore.
I’ve been seeing my life coach/mentor/listener since mid-November and it is amazing and uncomfortable, and emotional, and has given me a clarity and drive that I haven’t ever had before. I didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into, and didn’t really know what a life coach did, but I’ll try nearly anything when something lands serendipitously on my lap.
The conversations are usually on the phone, and it’s incredibly intimidating when a stranger says, “Tell me about you. This is about you.” It’s not very often that we are given the opportunity to have a willing listener. (Something else I want to improve this year, be a better listening friend) The first conversation with her I started with a lot of “ums, and I don’t knows,” but then I started telling the story of how/why I moved to New York. After a few sentences of telling my story to her, she stopped me, “So you moved to New York without a job, without having gone to school here, and only “sort of “knowing one person? Can you just pause and recognize that that is inspiring to me and you should be really proud of yourself.” I blushed through the phone and a smile stretched across my face the first time I heard her say that. (She says inspiring things like that all of the time, and it really seeps in after a while)
“Yeah, that does feel good, and I’m proud of that.” I usually talk to her while fidgeting on the floor of my bedroom and smiling. And then my story begins to flow out of me, comfortably, confidently, and clearly. By speaking life to my thoughts, feelings, and struggles I have been able to take an internal inventory. This inventory has helped to figure out how far I have come, but most importantly where I want to go.
My list of goals I want to accomplish this year is short, but very precise.
I have a new energy around my goals and feel really motivated to accomplish them. I have four things on my list, and one of them is to buy a couch. It’s no longer a soft place to sit, it’s going to be an extremely symbolic and emotional day when I make the purchase.
When I buy a couch I am putting down roots.
Roots! Something I haven’t been ready for until now. I’m always seeking clarity and have felt very spiritual in this new year.
I cut out a bunch of pictures of couches and put them on my dream board this weekend. I have a sexy little grey number in mind with a chaise lounge on one end…but I’m not quite ready yet but I have a feeling 2017 is the year of the couch.
I had zero interest in New York City. Like, none…until I did.
When I read my rejection letter for a creative writing program at Boise State University in a Starbucks parking lot, the tears came fast and hard. I tried to blink them away to read and re-read the email. The moment embodied hopelessness. This hopelesness was not about getting rejected by Boise State, and I know that now. But grad school was my way out, my hope, it was my chance to move on. I had just suffered a breakup that still can wreck me if I let it. A breakup that still makes my voice crack, and a breakup that has made me push every guy away for the last three years. Not getting into grad school felt like I lost an opportunity to move forward. Because I didn’t feel like I had any other options. I felt physical pain in my chest and I didn’t know what to do.
I sat there in my car crying tears for so many reasons. And then I had a feeling or a whisper that floated through my thoughts for the first time in my life. Move to New York. Writers move to New York.
The very thought, scared me. My heart raced. And I pushed it to the back of my mind. I had never even visited New York. Had never wanted to. And now, this overwhelming feeling washed over me that I had to move there.
So I did. I listened to the whisper. And I’m here.
And I’m so lonely.
And it’s so hard.
It’s big, sweaty, smelly, vicious, loud, uncomfortable, exhausting, and it makes me afraid.
I have been here going on two years now, and I still don’t feel like I fit here. My clothes aren’t expensive, my school wasn’t fancy, my heart is too sensitive. I feel that most days are me against everyone else. I have never cried more in my whole life combined before I moved here. I cried openly and hard on the street corner recently because the line was so long at Trader Joe’s and I just needed a few things. That day, the City won. Lately, the City wins a lot.
But there is never a time that I don’t pause in complete awe when I’m on the Brooklyn or Manhattan bridge. I look Downtown at the sky scrapers and the Statue of Liberty, and in those moments I can’t believe I live here. And I feel alive. And I remember the romance that is New York. The grocery store lines fade, and the sweat dripping down my back stills, and the smell of bagels baking, and cobble stone streets give me the nutrients to get through another day.
It’s hard to remember the dream in the tough moments, It’s hard to remember my excitement when I boarded the plane with a one way ticket. It’s so hard to go home alone every night. This place has shown me hard work, thick skin, and has broken me down pretty hard. I’m thankful for all of the things it continues to teach me. One day I won’t live here anymore, and I’m sure my heart will ache for it. I can imagine an emptiness after leaving a place like this. Because I will remember the romance and the tumultuous relationship that I had with this City.
Until the day comes, I’m hoping for a few days that the City lets me win.