Two years ago, I rolled up to New York City in my parents’ van and got ready for the rest of my life in this city.
A month after my second anniversary, I made plans to move because of my depression and lack of a good job. As I sat in Hammerstein Ballroom on my last Sunday in the city, I bawled, mourning all that I'm leaving and all that I will lose.
I envisioned a future for myself in New York City, and slowly it faded from sight. But it's still special to me, this place of buildings scraping the skies, bustling, hustling movers, shakers, and dreamers who’ve come to make their impact on the world, and corner delis where cooks know exactly how I like an egg and cheese on a roll.
I remember the man who asked me if I was OK as I cry-walked through Brooklyn. I remember the boy who captured my heart, to whom I never got to say goodbye. I remember the feel of the wind on the High Line at the Hudson River on a blustery day. I remember the blisters on my feet from my first days, which eventually turned to callouses as I became accustomed to the walking. I remember the pizza place near Astor Place where I went every day during the year of grad school I completed. I cherish the thought of the dinner boats that made me feel like a millionaire while being a broke New Yorker, the millions of laughs I shared with the friends this city gave me.
I'm heartbroken to leave — but I'm also excited about what's next. As confusing as that mix of emotions can be, I think it's fine to be confused.
There’s nothing wrong with mourning what you’re giving up, all the things that are or were but cannot be anymore because you’re leaving. I hope I'll return someday, but the truth is that I don’t know if I’ll ever make it back.
So I cry. I cry because leaving is the end of something. It’s the beginning of something else, of course, and I’m excited to face a future that could take any shape and that will undoubtedly surprise me. I’m happy to be going where I’m going — first to South Carolina, then Italy, and then anywhere the wind blows.
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There are also things that could not be whether I stayed or not. I was standing outside church, waiting to say goodbye to a friend, when a familiar figure stumbled down the stairs, running to accomplish a task. She was my best friend for all of four glorious months. I loved her and thought we were best friends forever. But that friendship is gone, and leaving New York doesn’t change the fact that she gave up.
Whether you want them to or not, whether you're ready or not, chapters come to a close.
The New York chapter of my life has been a weird one. I've been intensely happy, but I've also been hospitalized twice for depression. I've made friends I hope to keep for life, but I've also lost great ones. I've worked hard but have little financial stability to show for it. It's a study in paradoxes. And as excited as I am for the next adventure, I'm grieving this one's completion. That, too, is a study in paradoxes, and I can’t help but smile at the beautiful symmetry of it all.
There are going to be times in life when the things don’t work out. There are going to be times when that’s disappointing. But there might also be times when you realize that's OK. It’s OK that you spent years fighting for one thing, ended up with another, and are happy.
I think that’s the beauty of life — how unpredictable it is and how adaptable we are as humans. We’re so flexible in the things we can weather! It’s honestly amazing.
I’m excited to see where I end up in a few months. Maybe I'll run right back to New York. Maybe I’ll never come back. I think both options are alright.